After deaths, ambassador concerned about safety of Filipino workers in U.S.

After deaths, ambassador concerned about safety of Filipino workers in U.S.

GULF OF MEXICO - Commercial vessels spray water to extinguish a platform fire on board Black Elk Energy's facility in West Delta 32, approximately 20 miles offshore Grand Isle, La., in November 2012. Three Filipino nationals died in the explosion and three more were seriously injured. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 8:01 PM

David Hammer / Eyewitness News
Email: dhammer@wwltv.com | Twitter: @davidhammerWWL

After the death of a fourth Filipino oilfield worker in less than a year, the Philippines ambassador to the United States expressed concern this morning about the safety of his countrymen working offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and called on U.S. authorities to look closely at the matter.

“This tragedy comes almost a year after a similar incident at another offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico claimed the lives of three Filipino oil workers and seriously injured three others,” Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. said in a statement.

“In light of these events, the Philippine Embassy would like to express its deep concern over the safety of Filipinos working in offshore facilities in the United States.”

Peter Voces, 38, a welder from the town of Gumaca, Quezon Province south of Manila, plummeted to his death Sunday evening when he was working to dismantle an idle oil platform about 55 miles off the central Louisiana coast.

Details about the accident are sketchy. Energy Resource Technology GOM, the owner of the platform, said through a spokesman that an empty storage container also fell off the platform and into the Gulf waters, which are about 100 feet deep around Platform A in the Vermilion 200 lease block.

But Voces and other platform workers were employed by a derrick barge contractor, Houma-based Offshore Specialty Fabricators LLC, and that company has not responded to any requests for comment the last three days.

“Although we hope that Mr. Voces’s death was not the result of platform safety issues, we expect the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) to thoroughly investigate the incident,” the ambassador said.

BSEE spokeswoman Eileen Angelico said the regulatory agency has begun an investigation.

The Philippines Embassy says Voces left behind a wife and three children in the Philippines. The embassy is trying to work with Offshore Specialty Fabricators to repatriate Voces’ remains.

Voces was sent to work for Offshore Specialty Fabricators by the recruiting agency 88 Aces Maritime Services in the Philippines, but the agency has not been cooperative in providing information, an embassy spokesman said.

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