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Kin of Filipino workers slain by ISIS still seeking closure after 5 years

/ 07:54 PM March 06, 2020
20140329 Department of Foreign Affairs

Department of Foreign Affairs building. (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — The families of the four Filipino oil field workers in southern Libya believed to be killed by militants from the Islamic State (ISIS) are seeking closure five years after their abduction in 2015.

In a statement on Friday, Philippine Embassy in Tripoli Chargè d Affaires Elmer Cato said they are in touch with the families of the four migrant workers, the oil company where the four Filipinos worked and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is leading efforts to find and recover the remains of the victims.

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Cato said the embassy had been informed that the bodies of the four were buried somewhere in Derna and that the ICRC has been working closely with authorities to pinpoint the exact location of the gravesite.

It was on March 6, 2015 when Islamic extremists broke into the compound of an oil company in southern Libya and abducted several foreign workers, four of which were Filipinos–Donato Santiago, Gregorio Titan, Roladan Blaza, and Wilson Eligue.

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“Nothing had been heard from the four Filipinos and their coworkers from Austria, the Czech Republic, Ghana, and Bangladesh, until 2017 when authorities in the city of Derna, 883 kilometers east of Tripoli, said all nine were executed by retreating ISIS fighters,” Cato noted.

They were believed to have been shot to death by ISIS militants but their remains were never seen nor recovered, he said.

“The Derna Shura Council said a video from a laptop recovered around June 2015 from slain ISIS members purportedly showed the four Filipinos being shot by militants,” he added.

The four Filipinos were employees of the Austrian oil field management company Value Added Oil Services (VAOS), Cato noted.

At the time of their abduction, Santiago, a heavy equipment mechanic from Mandaluyong, had been with VAOS for 25 years. Titan, a kitchen helper from Cavinti, Laguna, 20 years; Blaza, a helper cook from Cabuyao, Laguna, 15 years; and Eligue, a production operator from Mariveles, Bataan, for five years.

“The families of the four have accepted the sad fate that befell their breadwinners and now want closure,” he added.

Cato expressed hopes that the security situation in the area is now stable enough to allow the recovery and identification of the remains.

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“We need to help the families find closure,” Cato said.

“We hope our four kababayan would be found soon so we can bring them home and reunite them with their loved ones,” he added.

Edited by JPV
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TAGS: DFA, Elmer Cato, Features, Filipino migrant workers, ISIS, nation, Philippine Embassy in Tripoli
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