(UPDATE) THE government on Thursday confirmed the death of two Filipino seafarers in a missile attack Wednesday by Houthi rebels on their ship in the Red Sea.

The attack set the Liberian-owned, Barbados-flagged ship True Confidence ablaze, about 50 nautical miles or 93 kilometers off the coast of Yemen’s port of Aden.

“We in the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) sincerely extend our deepest condolences to the family and kin of our slain, heroic seafarers. For reasons of privacy, we are withholding their names and identities,” the DMW said in a statement

RESCUE This handout photograph taken on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, and released by the Indian Navy shows the rescue operation of crew members of a Barbados-flagged bulk carrier by the Indian Navy after an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. AFP PHOTO
RESCUE This handout photograph taken on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, and released by the Indian Navy shows the rescue operation of crew members of a Barbados-flagged bulk carrier by the Indian Navy after an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. AFP PHOTO



It added that the agency was also informed that two other Filipino crewmen were severely injured in the attack on their ship.

On orders of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the DMW said it is extending full support and assistance to the families of the seafarers.

The DMW is already in touch with the ship’s manning agency and shipowner to ascertain the condition of the rest of the ship’s crew, particularly the remaining Filipino crew members.

The DMW has also coordinated with the principal shipowner and manning agency to work on the repatriation of the remaining Filipino crew members.

With the continuous attacks linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict, the DMW reiterated its call to shipowners with ships navigating the volatile Red Sea-Gulf of Aden sea lanes to comply strictly with the expanded “high risk areas” designation and to implement appropriate risk mitigation measures, such as rerouting vessels and deploying armed security personnel onboard such vessels.

The DMW has also called for continued diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and to address the causes of the current conflict in the Middle East.

The Iran-backed Houthis have been targeting merchant vessels transiting the vital Red Sea trade route for months but Wednesday’s deaths appear to be the first fatalities resulting from such an attack.

“The crew abandoned the ship and coalition warships responded and are assessing the situation,” the US Central Command (Centcom) said, noting that the attack was the fifth time the Houthis had launched an anti-ship ballistic missile in two days.

“These reckless attacks by the Huthis have disrupted global trade and taken the lives of international seafarers,” Centcom said.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree wrote on social media that the True Confidence was targeted with multiple missiles “after the ship’s crew rejected warning messages” from the Houthis

US military strikes

Centcom said several hours after the True Confidence was hit, it had carried out strikes against “two unmanned aerial vehicles in a Houthi controlled area of Yemen that presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships.”

“These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for US Navy and merchant vessels,” it said in a separate statement without elaborating.

The United States and Britain have launched repeated strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen since January in response to the ship attacks but the rebels have continued to target merchant vessels.

The British embassy in Sanaa said earlier the death toll on board the True Confidence was at least two, describing the loss of life as “the sad but inevitable consequence of the Houthis recklessly firing missiles at international shipping.”

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron promised that “we will continue to stand up for freedom of navigation and back our words with actions.”

The Houthis began attacking ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea in November, a campaign they say is intended to signal solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

They have vowed to strike Israeli, British and American ships, as well as vessels heading to Israeli ports, disrupting traffic through the vital trade route off Yemen’s shores.

The latest incident comes after a Belize-flagged, Lebanese-operated ship sank on Saturday with 21,000 metric tons of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer on board.

The ship, called the Rubymar, had been taking on water since it was hit by a Houthi missile on February 18 that damaged its hull and forced the evacuation of its crew to Djibouti.

The flurry of Houthi strikes has caused several major shipping firms to suspend passage through the Red Sea, which usually carries around 12 percent of global trade.


Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri on Thursday condemned the Houthi missile attack.

“This is an act of terrorism, plain and simple — waging violence and death on civilians who are simply trying to make a living out on the seas. There is no way to justify this brutality,” Zubiri said.

The Senate chief condoled with the families of the victims and joined them in calling for justice for their loved ones.

He also called on the DMW to seek the return of the remains of the victims to their families and to extend the necessary assistance to the injured crewmen.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega earlier said that while the release of the Filipino seafarers was certain, there was no assurance of when this would occur.

The DFA has also sent a team to Yemen to assist the affected seafarers amid the ongoing negotiations.

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives said they were saddened by the death of two Filipino seafarers.

OFW Party-list Rep. Marissa “Del Mar” Magsino offered her condolences to the family of the two seafarers’ families and said she was praying for the other Filipino crew members on the ship.

“This kind of tragedy shows the dangers that our seafarers face in their jobs and the importance of passing the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers so that we can protect their well-being, including their families, in times of crisis,” she said in Filipino.

Bohol 3rd District Rep. Kristine Alexie Tutor, chairman of the House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation, also mourned the two casualties.

“I encourage our colleagues on the bicameral conference committee for the Magna Carta of Seafarers to work faster and meticulously on the provisions that Malacañang pointed out as concerns that caused the aborted signing of the Magna Carta of Seafarers,” Tutor said.

“Now, more than ever, we need the Magna Carta of Seafarers signed into law, but the legal hurdles must be effectively addressed first. We must get that law right because the lives and futures of seafarers are on the line,” she said.