Funeral service held for OFWs killed in oil rig blast

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Nov 30 2012 12:22 PM | Updated as of Dec 01 2012 10:55 PM

CUT OFF, Louisiana - An emotional funeral service for the two overseas Filipino workers who were victims of the tragic oil rig fire and explosion in the Gulf Coast was held Wednesday.

The families of Elroy Corporal and Avelino Tajonera came all the way from the Philippines to pay their respects, as well as their co-workers who survived the tragedy.

“Our hearts go to Elroy's wife, Maryjane and their children. Maryjane and Elroy Jr. who unfortunately could not come to the US, and to Avelino's wife Edna and their children Gabe, Maverick and Adrian--they are what these two men lived and died for,” said Philippine Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr.

Also included in their prayers is the third Filipino fatality, 28-year-old Jerome Malagapo, an oil rig fitter from Danao City, Cebu.

Ambassador Cuisia said Malagapo's body was found and recovered 20 miles away from the ill-fated platform on Monday.

But the embassy decided not to release the information until Malagapo was positively identified using his dental records.

Malagapo's family has already been informed of his death.

Cuisia also conveyed to the families of the victims the message of condolences from President Benigno Aquino III and from Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Cuisia also expressed his indignation over reports from unnamed sources that the oil rig platform tragedy could have been caused by the incompetence of the Filipino workers and their poor English proficiency.

“I will be doing Elroy Corporal, Avelino Tajonera and the other injured Filipinos 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,” he said.

He added that, “the nine Filipinos who were on that oil 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, these men also have extensive experience in the oil and gas industry abroad and with such giants as Shell, Chevron and British petroleum."

Meantime, Deputy Consul General Orontes Castro said Corporal's body is on its way to the Philippines and is expected to arrive in Manila on Friday.

Tajonera's remains will be cremated at a later date.