US authorities to interview injured Filipinos in oil rig blast


06:16 PM December 7th, 2012

By: Fat Reyes, December 7th, 2012 06:16 PM

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine embassy in Washington on Friday said that federal authorities were expected to interview three Filipino oil rig workers who sustained burn injuries in the November 16 oil platform fire in the Gulf of Mexico.

The embassy noted that officers from the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement (BSEE) of the United States’ Department of Interior had made inquiries to check on the condition of the Filipinos being treated for serious burns at the Baton Rouge General Hospital in Louisiana.

“We expect federal authorities to interview the three Filipino workers as soon as their condition would allow them to give their account of what really happened that day,” Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia said in a statement.

“We expect our kababayans to tell investigators everything they know so that we could all get to the bottom of this tragedy,” Cuisia said.

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.

Meanwhile, the embassy noted that the hospital authorities have announced that the conditions of the three Filipino injured workers continued to improve.

Cuisia also noted that BSEE investigators had earlier interviewed three other Filipinos who were with the six victims when fire broke out on the platform owned by Houston-based Black Elk Energy. The said Filipinos returned to the Philippines a few days after the incident.

Cuisia earlier decried media reports saying that the “incompetence” and “poor English language proficiency” of Filipino workers could have caused the fire.

The envoy argued that the Filipino workers passed stringent training, safety and language requirements both in the United States in the Philippines, adding that the men have extensive experience in the oil industry abroad with companies like Shell, Chevron, and British Petroleum.

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