The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday led other concerned agencies in the award of P100,000.00 in assistance to each family of eight seamen on-board a tugboat from Korea who went missing on their way to the Philippines in January last year.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said the government is paying tribute to the seafarers’ sacrifices as he extended sympathies to the bereaved families.

“Filipino Seafarers are the modern heroes of this generation and we should give them gratitude for their efforts and sacrifices to provide better lives to their families. We are extending our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and we are praying for the good welfare of their relatives,” Bello said.

Bello together with Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Cacdac; Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Usec. Jess Yabes; DOLE Usec. Dominador Say; and Angkla Partylist Representative, Cong Jesus Manalo, handed over the cash assistance to the beneficiaries of the missing seafarers.

DOLE and OWWA awarded P100,000.00 to the families of seamen Alfredo Getigan, Cesar Guadalupe, Canoyos Tandog and Patricio Naciongayo. The DFA on the other hand gave out the same amount each to the next of kin of Jerry Cabag, Aaron Solangon, Donimmer Tandog and Roque De Guzman.

The welfare administration will also provide psycho-social support to members of the families of the missing Filipino seafarers thru individual, group or family counseling; and educational assistance to the siblings of the victims.

The Filipino seamen were on conduction operations on board a tug vessel named M/T Rokku Maru, owned and operated by Tugsystems Marine Corporation, when they left the Port of Busan, Korea and went missing since January 24, 2016 on their way to Iligan City.

It was attached to M/V Kwang Yan by means of a towing line but was disengaged while cruising near the coasts of Kagoshima, Japan. Nothing was heard of the whereabouts after the incident was reported a month later upon arrival of M/V Kwang Yan at the Port of Iligan.

Search and rescue operations were conducted by various government agencies such as the Bureau of Immigration, POEA, Philippine Coast Guard, Japan Coast Guard, Japan Maritime Rescue and Coordination Center, and the International Maritime Bureau in coordination with the Philippine Consulate General in Korea, but no traces of the tugboat nor the seafarers were found.

Last June 16, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), conducted a separate investigation and submitted its final analysis report which states an assumption of two (2) possible cause of loss of the boat and the seafarers such as (a) sinking or capsizing; (b) abduction or piracy of M/T Rokku Maru.

DOLE and OWWA meantime reminded all Filipino seafarers to have necessary documents and insurance before they work overseas for them to be secured on their rights and benefits should an incident transpire while on duty. Agencies and companies have also been reprimanded on the charges they will be facing should they continue to operate and do business without proper permits and clearances.

#paulang

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