The family of Rogelio Dalen “Ondoy” Balahay, Jr. who went missing mid-sea while onboard a bulk carrier last month has not given up hope that the Boholano seaman is still alive, even as the ship arrived at its destination in Singapore on Thursday after an over month-long voyage and he remained unaccounted for.
“Duna pay hope. Fifty-fifty,” said Richel Balahay-Tan, Dalen’s sister.
According to Richel, they have taken matters into their own hands after they were not afforded the assistance promised by government agencies including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
Makati-based Friendly Maritime Services Inc., Dalen’s agency, which initially vowed to reimburse the family’s airfare when they flew from Bohol to Metro Manila to coordinate with the firm has also not extended assistance.
Richel said that they are paying for their own lawyer who is now in Singapore along with her brother-in-law and aunt to conduct an investigation themselves.
“Mao ng gusto g’yud namo na mo-abot sa Presidente kay sa amo karon, gipasagdan ra mi sa DFA, POEA and OWWA,” Richel said.
“Mipasalig sila na naay investigation, na OK na. Maghuwat nalang kuno mo-abot ang barko kay naay investigation. Pag-abot nila [lawyer] sa Singapore, pag-abot nila sa embassy, wala pa jud diay [investigation],” she added.
She also said that shipmates of Dalen, who initially claimed that he jumped off the ship, have stopped communicating with them after they were barred by the agency and the ship’s captain from talking to the family.
Meanwhile, Richel has started a prayer brigade as they continued to hope for a positive outcome in the investigation on her brother’s disappearance.
“Every night mi with mga silingan and friends,” said Richel.
Dalen, 31, a native of Alicia town, was set to return to Bohol this month for his wedding early next year.
He was reported missing while onboard Greek bulk carrier Alpha Bravery on September 1 while the vessel was travelling from Brazil to Singapore.
According to Richel, several members of their family received a message through Messenger from Dalen informing them that his life may be in danger on August 30.
“Ni-chat siya na giinitam siya didto sa iyang mga kauban. ‘Pahibaw lang ko ninyo nga basin unsy mahitabo nako diri kay wa ko kahibaw unsa ilang buhaton nako.’ Gusto siya magpatabang lagi unta,” she said.
Dalen earlier drew the ire of his shipmates when he was promoted from ordinary seaman to able seaman based on a message sent to his mother.
“Ni-text siya nga July sa akong mama na daghan kuno nasina niya pagka-promote niya from OS to AB pag March,” she said.
Previously, Rene Real, officer-in-charge of the provincial government’s Overseas Filipino Worker Affairs and Anti-Illegal Recruitment Desk, said that he submitted a letter to the Office of the President seeking assistance and a 25-page document on the case.
So far, there has been no update on the appeal. (A. Doydora)