PH embassy wants US probe on oil rig worker's death

Posted at 10/31/2013 11:49 PM

MANILA -- The Philippine Embassy in Washington DC called on US authorities Thursday to conduct a thorough investigation on the death of a Filipino welder who accidentally fell off an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico while on duty.

On its Twitter account, it said that Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. expresses deep concern over the safety of Filipinos working in offshore oil facilities in the US after the death of welder Peter Jorge E. Voces, whose body was recovered by divers of the US Coast Guard last Tuesday.

The 38-year-old Filipino was a member of a derrick barge crew that was contracted by its subsidiary, Energy Resource Technology, to dismantle one of its platforms at Vermillion Block 200, located some 55 miles south of Freshwater Bayou in Louisiana when he was knocked off the platform by an empty storage tank.

Cuisia made the request for an investigation to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) of US Department of the Interior, which enforces offshore drilling regulations.

"Although we hope Mr. Voces's death was not the result of platform safety issues, we expect the BSEE to thoroughly investigate the incident," said Cusia. "We urge US authorities, employers and contractors to take concrete measures to protect our workers and prevent future incidents."

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said that the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago is already working on the repatriation of Voces' remains and to secure the OFW’s benefits from his employer.

Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said that the victim's manning agency, 88 Aces Maritime Services, has already coordinated with them on the repatriation and burial of Voces.

The OFW, who is based in Gumaca, Quezon, left behind a wife and four children.

This is not the first time that a Filipino has died due to an incident on an offshore oil platform. Last year, three Filipinos died following a huge explosion that injured three others in another oil platform.