Filipino workers should not be blamed for US oil rig blast–officials


Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Ambassador to the United States (US) Jose Cuisia on Thursday decried media reports saying that the “incompetence” and “poor English language proficiency” of Filipino workers could have caused the fire that hit an oil rig platform off the coast of Louisiana on November 16.

The statement from the Philippine embassy in Washington noted that Cuisia was joined by the employer and co-workers of the Filipinos in disputing reports that the fire may have been triggered by the wrong use of torch by the workers.

In a eulogy he offered for the Filipino victims, Cuisa said that he would be doing them a “great injustice if I do not speak out and express my disappointment and dismay over unfair insinuations in media that our workers are to be blamed for the accident.”

The incident had claimed the lives of three Filipino workers — Ellroy Corporal, Avelino Tajonera, and Jerome Malagapo — and injured three others. There were nine Filipino and five non-Filipino employees working on the oil platform during the incident.

“The nine Filipinos who were on that platform on November 16 would not have been there if they did not pass stringent training, safety and language requirements both here in the United States and back home in the Philippines,” Cuisia said, adding that the men had extensive experience in the oil gas industry abroad with companies like Shell, Chevron, and British Petroleum.

The envoy had said that Philippine workers were very much in demand among big oil companies abroad, adding that they were “highly valued and well compensated” because of their skills and work ethics.

As of November, there are 40,000 Filipinos working in the offshore oil and gas industry in various parts of the world, said Cuisia, citing statistics from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

About 2,000 of them are in the United States, including in Louisiana, which accounts for 23 percent of total US crude oil production.

Meanwhile, Mark Preagant, President and Chief Executive Officer of Grand Isle Shipyard Inc, also disputed media reports, saying that the Filipinos “did not cut the wrong line” and that they “did not cut that piece of pipe with a torch.”

Pregeant, in his eulogy, also lauded the Filipino offshore wrokers by highlighting their “crucial role” in restoring oil production in Louisiana following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the US Gulf coast in 2005.

“I do not have one customer who has something bad to say about Filipino workers. Let there be no mistake about that,” Pregeant said.

Romeo Capili, a co-worker of the victims, said Internet reports of the Filipino workers’ incompetence “broke his heart.”

“If that were the case, probably, we Filipinos would not have been asked to come back and work here since 2005,” he said.

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  • Marlou Wang

    It is always like that! It is easy to blame people especially if you are not caucasian.

  • Marlou Wang

    Ohhh, now I see!!! The British Petroleum Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened BECAUSE OF THE WORKERS’ FLUENCY IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.  PERFECT! JUST ABOUT RIGHT!!!!

    • adriel0104

      ang narinig ko pilipino pa rin ang na blame kasi walang pilipino ang nagtrabaho doon kaya sumabog.kung meron sana pilipino hindi daw mangyari yun.

  • boy

    british petroleum..boooooooooooomm..all english man

  • krisatienza

    Racially motivated comments by news media in the US? Another attempt to discredit the values our hard-working Filipino countrymen in those nations are coming up? You and what cavalry are you talking about, critics of Filipinos in America?

  • denzel_alfonso

    Ganito yan mga ‘tol, kapag sa oil rig ka nagwo-work di ka basta-basta magwe-welding or cutting kung hindi secure ang environment mo or gas free. Now, kahit gas free pa yan di basta basta mag welding or mag cutting ang mga Pinoy kung walang HOT WORK PERMIT! Gumamit sila ng acetylene kaya may HOT WORK permit na issue dapat yan na ussually ay high ranking official ang pumipirma bago mag simula ang work. 

  • denzel_alfonso

    Yung Piper Alpha na oil rig sa North Sea na sumabog, di ba marunong mag-ingles yung nandoon eh puro Bristish yon. Obviously, pinapasa nila sa mga Pinoy na namatay kasi nga DEAD MAN TELLS NO TALES!

  • tower_of_power

    Kung 100% mga Pinoy ang nandoon noong mangyari ang trahedya … wala ng ibang pwede pang sisihin. Kung inakala nilang malaki ang pelegro … armed sila ng “STOP WORK”, a safety system  put in place to empower anyone and everyone to stop the work kung merong malaking pelegro. Hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang talagang nangyari … let us wait and see.

  • ohnioknieves

    if media reports unlawful our envoy mr cuisia should file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased workers, who are professionals, competent, and experience that merits respect and honor!
    this is an insult to the dead workers and their bereaved families.

  • oh_noh

    mistakes can happen, even for the so-called “experts”…
    wait for the official accident report, accept it if it is the fault of the workers. whatever happens, ignore those people accusing pinoys of incompetence!!!

    remember, every time somebody points a finger at you, that somebody is pointing back 3 fingers at himself/herself !!!

  • adriel0104

    dapat ang mga kano ang nagtrabaho doon, kaso sila ang tamad!ayaw magtrabaho dahil naghintay sa pera na ibinigay sa gobyerno.

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