PH to bring home victims of Vietnam ship mishap
MANILA, Philippines – Ilonggo cook Angelito Capindo Rojas is still “in shock” after the ship he was working on sank off Vietnam last Friday, January 2, but he will soon be able to return home.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it is working on the repatriation of Rojas, the lone survivor, along with the bodies of two other Filipinos on the Bahaman ship Bulk Jupiter, which had an all-Filipino 19-member crew.
DFA Spokesperson Charles Jose said in a press briefing on Monday, January 5, that the 16 other Filipino sailors remain missing. The Vietnam-led search for the seafarers continues but bad weather hampers the effort.
Jose said that the Philippines’ honorary consul general in Ho Chi Minh City and a representative of the manning agency, Magsaysay Maritime Corporation, are making arrangements for the repatriation of Rojas and the two fatalities: Captain Ronel Acueza Andrin, and 3rd Officer Jerome Maquilang Dinoy.
“Mr Angelito Rojas is currently under the care of the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordinating Center in Vung Tau City,” Jose said, referring to Vietnam’s southern city.
Bulk Jupiter sank 150 nautical miles off Vung Tau on Friday after departing Kuantan, Malaysia, en route to China. It was carrying 46,400 metric tons of bauxite, an aluminum ore.
Asked about reports that Rojas was uncooperative in the investigation into the cause of the sinking, Jose said the only information he got was that the ship’s chief cook was still “in shock.”
Reports from the Associated Press and Vietnamese media said Rojas refused to answer investigators’ questions on what happened to the cargo vessel, saying he was “dizzy and tired.”
“Despite being explained and convinced that all of the information he supplies will help a great deal in [saving] the remaining missing crewmembers, Rojas refused to continue talking,” reported Vietnam’s Tuoi Tre newspaper.
As for the two fatalities, Jose said the DFA will extend assistance to hasten their repatriation by providing a consular mortuary certification.
Other agencies like the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will assist the victims’ families.
Captain Andrin, 45, hails from Polillo, Quezon while 3rd Officer Dinoy is from Lapu-Lapu, Cebu, based on the Maritime Crew List.
The ship owner, Norway-based Gearbulk, said the Japanese Coast Guard received the vessel’s distress alert last Friday.
“Lifeboats and life rafts have been observed and inspected but found empty,” Gearbulk said in a statement Saturday, January 3.
Palace asks DND to help search
Vietnam asked countries with vessels in the area to help in the search. Ships from Liberia, Oman, Singapore and China were among those helping out.
Philippine Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Manila might also join the effort.
“We are asking the Secretary of National Defense if we can extend assistance. The SND will now look into it,” Lacierda said in a Palace press briefing Monday.
Citing information from the Philippine Embassy in Hanoi, Lacierda said Vietnam’s Navy added 3 helicopters to the search efforts on Monday.
Even 3 days after the incident, the Philippine government is still optimistic about the fate of the missing sailors.
“Everyone is hoping we will still find survivors,” Jose said.
Filipino in Scotland presumed dead?
Another Filipino sailor is still missing in a sea mishap off Scotland.
Jose said the DFA has no information on the fate of the lone Filipino on the Cypriot-registered cargo ship Cemfjord, which sank off the north coast of Scotland. A passing ferry spotted the ship’s upturned hull on Saturday.
Besides the Filipino, 7 Polish seafarers remain missing.
The Guardian reported that the 8 crew members are presumed dead after an extensive search operation failed to find them. It quoted the United Kingdom’s Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) as saying that the search was called off.
“The search has been suspended, so there are no more resources searching for the missing men. We are now in the investigation phase,” an MCA spokeswoman said.
“The area has been completely saturated [by the search and rescue teams] and sadly, no sign has been found of the men, none whatsoever.”
These are just the latest tragedies to hit Filipino seafarers. In December, Filipinos were also on board a South Korean trawler that sank off Russia’s far east coast.
Known as among the world’s best seafarers, Filipino sailors comprise 400,000 or a quarter of the world’s 1.5 million officers and crews. – Rappler.com