Wife of Cebuano missing in oil rig accident may fly to US

Posted on November 21, 2012

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The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Central Visayas is clueless on the fate of the Cebuano worker who remains missing three days after the oil rig accident in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana state in the United States.

Jerome Malagapo, 21 from Danao City has been missing since the Nov. 17 fire in an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Malagapo left the country last month to work as a pipe fitter.

According to the DnR Offshore Crewing Services they are now making arrangements to bring Malagapo’s wife Joanne to New Orleans to personally witness the search and rescue operations being conducted by the US Coast Guard.

Edmundo Maxilom Jr., liaison officer of DnR Offshore Crewing Services, said Mrs. Malagapo is now in Manila to process her travel papers and to seek assistance from government agencies.

The OWWA in Central Visayas however still has to make a move on how to help the star-crossed Cebuano’s family.

According to Maricel Regasajo, Labor Communication Officer of the OWWA regional office, they have not received directives from the head office in Manila regarding the case.

She however admitted, they learned of the incident involving Malagapo from news reports.

Asked by Cebu Daily News if the regional office have made an inquiry with their central office, Regasajo said: “We are still waiting for official communication from Manila.”

According to the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (Republic Act 8042), OWWA is mandated to coordinate with international agencies to evacuate and send Filipino workers back to the Philippines in cases of war, epidemics, disasters or calamities – be they natural or man-made.

Regasajo said, OFWs who are members of OWWA stand to receive P100,000 in case of death by natural causes and P200,000 for death caused by accident. The government agency gives P20,000 burial assistance to a member’s family.

Regasajo said they are still checking if Malagapo is an OWWA member.

Meanwhile, the status of the Filipino worker who suffered serious burns in the oil rig accident was upgraded to “good” on Monday, while one co-worker was in serious condition and two others remained critical.

Philippine Embassy officials said Elroy Corporal, 42 of Iligan City was killed in the accident.

The condition of Wilberto Ilagan, 50, one of four burn victims taken to Baton Rouge General Medical Center was upgraded from “fair” to “good” on Monday.

In a news conference, doctors said two workers remain in critical while another was in serious condition. Their identities were not revealed.

The Federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is investigating the accident and said it had personnel on the platform Monday.

The National Chemical Safety Board, a US government agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents, said it had not decided whether to launch an investigation, but it has sent a list of questions to Black Elk about evidence and possible witnesses.

Gulf Isle Shipyard, Inc., the company that was contracted to perform maintenance services on the platform, said in statements Sunday and Monday that a welding torch was not in use at the time of the fire.

Friday morning’s fire happened on a shallow-water offshore rig off the coast of Plaquemines Parish.

It was not producing oil at the time and the accident did not result in an oil leak as what happened in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010.

Jose Cuisia Jr., the Philippine ambassador to the US, attended the news conference in Baton Rouge.

“I’m sure that with the special care and attention you’ve been extending to our four countrymen, our four countrymen will recuperate sooner rather than later,” he said. /Associate Editor BenCyrus G. Ellorin and AP

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