Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has assured the wife of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and those whose relatives were killed in Algeria of the government’s assistance in the identification and repatriation of the remains of all the workers.
Binay, the Presidential Adviser for OFW Concerns, also gave assurance that the Office of the Vice President will coordinate with concerned government agencies so that all benefits due the OFWs will be given to their heirs.
He directed the Vice Presidential Special Concerns Unit (VPSCU) to coordinate with the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration to ensure the quick disbursement of all benefits of all affected OFWs, including medical and burial assistance and scholarships for dependents.
He also directed the VPSCU to identify all OFWs affected in Libya, including those who died or were injured in the hostage crisis in the north African country.
He ordered VPSCU chief Atty. Ira Paulo Pozon to coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and collate the addresses of all OFWs affected in the standoff.
“We also have to ensure that the employers of the OFWs will shoulder all repatriation expenses and release all unpaid salaries due our workers,” Binay said.
The OFW’s wife, who requested anonymity, met with Binay late Monday afternoon at the Coconut Palace and sought the Vice President’s help to ensure that the remains that will be brought home are indeed that of her husband’s.
The wife said she was contacted by both her husband’s employer and the DFA on Sunday to confirm her husband’s death.
“I was called by my husband’s employer and they said one of his foreign co-workers identified his body,” she said in Filipino.
The wife, who came with two of her husband’s sisters, said their main concern was how her husband was identified.
“They told me he was one of those who died in a bus that was rigged by militants with bombs. If he really died in the blast, chances are his body was dismembered. And if so, then how was he identified?” she asked.
She added that she has requested for photographic proof to put all doubts to rest.
“We’ve already accepted my husband’s fate. What we just want is to make sure that it will be my husband that will be brought home,” she said.
“We are utilizing the most accurate methods of identification possible including dental records and DNA testing because we do not want to have a repeat of misidentified bodies being brought home,” the Vice President assured her.
The wife said she wanted to remain anonymous as her husband’s mother still does not know her son was one of the casualties of the crisis in the north African country.
“She is already elderly and very sickly, and we are afraid her condition might worsen if she learns what happened,” said.
The DFA has already sent a Quick Response Team from the embassy in Libya to assist all distressed Filipinos in Algeria.
The embassy in neighboring Libya has jurisdiction over Algeria as the Philippines does not have an embassy in the country.
Last year, the body of a Syrian national was brought home to the Philippines after it was mistaken for that of the lone OFW killed in the gas tanker explosion in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.