7 of 8 OFWs killed in Algeria entitled to benefits—OWWABy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Only seven of the eight overseas Filipino worker fatalities in last week’s hostage taking at a remote Algerian gas plant are entitled to death and burial benefits from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the OWWA said on Wednesday.
In a phone interview, OWWA administrator Carmelita Dimzon disclosed that “of the eight deceased OFWs, only seven were bona fide members (of the Department of Labor and Employment-attached agency) at the time of their death.”
“[The beneficiaries of each] of the seven OWWA members will receive death and burial benefits amounting to P220,000,” she said.
According to Dimzon, the families of the seven OFWs are “also eligible to avail of the OWWA scholarship grant for members’ dependents and livelihood assistance worth P15,000.”
“OFWs who are non-OWWA members are not entitled to financial aid, but they can avail of non-monetary assistance like counseling,” she explained.
The remains of four OFWs were repatriated to the country on Tuesday, but the OWWA is “still awaiting advice (from Philippine government representatives and the OFWs’ employers in Algeria) on the return of the four other victims,” she said.
The OWWA “will not release flight details as per request of the victims’ families,” said Dimzon.
She did not disclose the names of the victims, but said “most of those killed were professionals, technical and highly-skilled workers.”
Aside from the eight male Filipinos confirmed dead in the siege, another OFW remained missing, said the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Twelve other Filipino workers survived the 72-hour hostage drama in the north African desert, the DFA added.
Dozens of foreign workers were killed during the standoff that ended in a bloody showdown between Islamic militants and Algerian commandos.
In a text message, DFA Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, also the agency spokesperson, said they would “decline to reveal the names of the survivors at their request, as well as the names of the arriving fatalities at the request of their next of kin.”
“In the next few days, we expect the remains of the remaining fatalities to be repatriated,” he said and appealed to media to respect the privacy and dignity of all those involved in the incident.
“The survivors need to recuperate from their ordeal, having been hurt and traumatized by this event while the families of the fatalities need the next few days to quietly grieve for their tragic loss in the presence of their kin and close friends,” he said.