On the flipside of safety seminars, there grows cases of missing seafarers, not including those missing from identified accidents like fire, explosion, collision, sinking. Simply tagged, “man overboard” with unfound body, unknown causes — Accident? Suicide? Foul play?
Data on this global concern are yet uncertain. But families in the Philippines are now grieving — the number growing — expectedly, as the country is the biggest supplier of merchant mariners.
International charity organizations assist the few who are aware of their services, fewer still are areas they could and are able to meaningfully help. State Administrations, burdened with their own loads, react with “immediate investigation” usually when blared by mass media and those reported missing are their nationals.
Perhaps, it will move things faster if we give faces of those missing. Perhaps, better protocols may be imposed when we revisit the surviving family, the orphaned children, the households dislocated from their needs and wants.
But there is no official list. We must start from those found missing, no pun intended.
Kristoffer Agpasa Galorio.
Marinong Pinoy cites Galorio’s mother dislike on “condolences” pouring in which imply that her son is gone. Many are posting unsolicited remarks, some insensitive, some fake, others irrelevant.
Mrs. Acette Agpasa Galorio has posted an “official” statement, notably disclaiming Pinky Galorio is authorized even if Pinky’s posting triggered interest on her nephew’s case.
Bryle is a 20-year old from Iligan City who boarded last October, his first since graduating on a scholarship grant from the Norwegian Shipowners Association (NSA).
In just over two months, he was reported missing from the LPG tanker BW Oak, built in 2008 and flagged by the Isle of Man, a tiny country in the vicinity of the United Kingdom. His last known conversation was a day after Christmas.
His family was informed Dec 28th, crumbling all dreams in a season of merriment. The manning agency briefed the mother on rescue operations under the Honolulu Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre with three vessels and a C-130 aircraft. It was called off after 40 hours without finding Bryle.
In a statement from Singapore, BW says it “… understand(s) the frustration felt by the family” and “… deeply concerned to have lost a young man given to our care.” There are three investigations on-going, independent of the other: by the Isle of Man, the Japanese Coast Guard and a BW Team led by heads of its Global Manning and Fleet Security.
Ms. Gina delos Reyes Virtusio of Maritime Technical Intl Asia and speaking as BW Phil Representative, assures “…BW remains fully committed” in sharing information with those concerned to prevent similar incidents from being repeated.
The family is gripped by the loss, doubly bitter on the uncertainties.
The agency facilitated and paid for expenses for the mother to go to Japan to recover personal belongings of Bryle from the vessel. But after a week of waiting in Manila, she was told to go to Korea, the BW Oak berthing there by January 11th.
Bryle’s girlfriend gave the mother phone screen shots which revealed Bryle’s problems with the Chief Mate and Second Mate, both Filipinos.
It appears being just a cadet and a trainee, Bryle was abused with rude expletives and work overload, often without respect to rest and sleep, duration and chill of winter; nitpicking on brand of pencil used on the chart, on ink color used on the logbook.
The mother suspects the answers of the 23 crewmates are planado and plantsado (planned and whitewashed). Given repeated “reminders” of the agency against speaking to the media, treating the mother with 5-Star amenities, to hush-hush the incident, cajoling to sign the insurance quitclaim — there must be more than meets the eye.
The mother is afraid Bryle’s case will sit, not even docketed; until maybe an ambulance chaser (with a gutless lawyer and a corrupt bureaucrat) comes to exploit, a solution worse than the problem.
Wilhelm Tabares Mantua.
25 years old, graduate from the JBLF Maritime University in the Visayas region of the archipelago. He is reported missing from M/V Lady Ami, February 1.
While the ship was leaving the Port of Liepaja (Latvia) at 16.00 hour-local, February 1st, Master Maarten Bekkema was informed Mantua was missing. Rescue operations were started, supported by vessels in the immediate vicinity.
Unfortunately, there was no positive result.
The M/V Lady Ami is moored in the port of Liepaja, with Crewing Manager AukeDouma to support all international authorities. Over-all coordination is from the head office in Delfzijl, led by its safety department.
The Board of Directors issued a reassuring statement, with its “… thoughts and prayers” for the family of Wilhelm and the crew on board.
Toto, his brother, was Spartan in his stand: “malampusan naton ni tanan… Hindi kami mag untatastamahibal-an namunang tanan” (We shall overcome all these; we shall not stop until we know all).
One can feel the excruciating pain as the brother is joined by family, Cattleya May Mantua and Lyn Borja-Tabares, clutching at straws in pain and in silence, for prayers for Wilhelm, their palangga (beloved).
Arnel M. Gillo.
The 2nd Engineer was reported missing March 13th from the Galloway Express which he boarded barely three days past.
The family cannot accept the report of the Queensland-Australia Police and prefers the Australia Federal Police (AFP) to take over. They find loopholes and biased perception like Arnel is not equal to his job, a judgment “echoed” by the other crew in spite of the established work ethics of Arnel in his 17 years at sea.
The Intl Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has involved itself with Natl Coordinator, Dean Summers, saying police boarded at Townsville but “questions their understanding of the crew’s language, culture and appreciation of maritime industry.”
ITF was harassed by company representatives, Queensland police even prevented access and frustrated all attempts to speak to the Master and crew.
Summers finds similarity with the high-profile incident on Sage Sagittarius where three died while on international waters. The NSW Coroner declared foul play on the Chief Cook and Chief Engineer, with the third highly suspect.
The Coroner recommended a tracer fact-finding to Japanese authorities. The superintendent sent by the owners to investigate was found dead in the self-discharge gear while the Sage was docked in Japan.
The livestock carrier is owned by the Dutch Vroon, flag-of- convenience (FoC) registered in Singapore and chartered by Australia-based Harmony Agriculture and Food. The company says the incident “unfortunate” but refuses to cooperate with ITF.
Again, the family sobs as it waits.
Ludemar Lozada Legario.
His sister Neneng Ann Ann wishes Pres. Duterte to intervene given three shortfalls:
- Vessels near the vicinity of Songa Breeze did not exert effort to help
- Hands at the oil rig in Lancapan did not hear nor responded to the cry
- Slow response of the Coast Guard (PCG)
Distress signal sent to El Nido Palawan-PCG station was unanswered, owing to weak signal thereat (claims the duty officer). The sister admonishes The President to investigate, to check on maritime problems and not just focus on illegal drugs campaign.
“Omar” is a 25-year old from Lambunao, Iloilo, last seen on Christmas at 6:30 pm onboard Songa Breeze navigating on international waters en route from Labuan, Malaysia to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The Man Over Board (MOB) incident was 100 nautical miles off Palawan Passage.
His sister, Hizzle Borbon Paguntalan reignited fading interest with FB postings; sought help from a national radio-tv program popular for intervention for the aggrieved poor. A cousin lined up in the scorching heat, #244 of 250 hopefuls. She failed to be on air as man-woman relations is the priority, not maritime issues.
Hizzle also tried, secured a letter for a lawyer at the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) but was given the round-around. A phone number assures access but ends up chiseling the desperate of even loose change.
Hizzle bleeds as she reads posts of family members agonizing just like her. But she keeps her head above water and shares pointers: 1) Pray hard and be strong. 2) Don’t easily believe all information relayed, be a critical thinker. 3) There is a due process for everything and it helps if you approach the legal government authorities. 4) Be open to all communication especially to the manning agency. 5) Research, research, research, then study, study, study, and act accordingly.
She calls to be strong, “be the wings of our missing loved ones.”
Dominador Fuentes III.
The Coast Guard (PCG) in Northern Mindanao continues search and operations for the 33-year old seafarer, reported missing last January 15th from the M/V Grande Progreso around 3 p.m., according to the Captain.
The cargo vessel was then carrying iron ore from Brazil, in the vicinity of Laguindingan coast, waiting to dock at the Phil Sinter port in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.
PCG scoured the vessel from top to bottom but cannot locate Fuentes, says ENS Jherich Ybañez, spokesperson of PCG-Normin District.
Hours before, Fuentes had informed his family of his promotion to Chief Mate. This makes his disappearance suspicious; ridiculous he would jump off the vessel, thinks Nelly, his mother.
The family has sought the help of the Natl Bureau of Investigation (NBI), hoping the vessel won’t leave the Philippines until the case is solved. The PCG has also informed the coastal communities along Misamis Oriental province to report any sign of Fuentes.
Juan Valentin Taloza.
His case was substantially covered by Marino World, Apr-June 20015 edition. The Filipino O/S was reported missing May 17, 2015 while on duty in Port Pointe Noire, Congo, Central Africa.
The father, Pedro Taloza, Jr. originally appealed to ITF Sec-Gen Stephen Cotton who cascaded it to Lam Wai Hong (Jason), ITF Inspector posted in Hong Kong where the crew is covered by the Hong Kong comprehensive bargaining agreement (CBA) and the local union may help.
It was on March 4th that the family learned of the incident from a call by Tutela Marine, the manning agency of the missing Taloza, assured by its president, Capt. Vevencio Tugano, that everything is being done to resolve the incident.
Initial investigation states the Hong Kong flagged roro M/V Thorco Serenity was docked at Port Pointe Noire, the second largest city in the Congo and the country’s essential center of the oil industry which, in turn, is one of the main oil producers in Central Africa.
On March 2nd, 10pm local time, Valentin was seen at the poop deck of the vessel for anti-theft watchkeeping night duty. On March 3rd, 8am, the crew noticed Taloza missing from breakfast where everyone is usually present.
The crew started searching the whole ship; Congo authorities helped, even along the waters. To no avail, nowhere is Valentin, 23-year old from Buguey, North Cagayan who holds a BS Marine Transport degree. The crew says Valentin took offsick for a few days earlier, complaining of dizzy spells and inability to sleep.
Tugano assures they are covering the bases but Congo has not release any formal report; work, government and insurance benefits are pending, like POEA’s mandatory $10,000 is only for the dead, not those missing.
Pedro, Jr. is agitated: what of the widow and their 3-year old son?; should the vessel continue to sail as if the incident is resolved?; what legal body takes jurisdiction?
“My son’s dream and aspiration … were all shattered… We are begging for truth and justice.”
Marino World picked examples from a Filipino vantage: reactions, sad and gnawing; responses, angry and agitated — yet all on appeals, be it to the principals or agents, be it to government or managers.
To whoever, just that those in the protocols to never forget the dislocations of the household, the pain of losing a beloved, the uncertainties of wait, of just waiting as business and time move on.
While the orphaned, the dependents — the common dreams — must hope, must wait.