Manila: Only two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) killed during a hostage crisis at a gas plant in Algeria have been identified, with the names of the rest yet to be released, a local paper has said.
The two OFWs, Raffy Edubane and Iluminado Santiago, were identified after their relatives approached authorities seeking assistance, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Carmelita Dimzon told the Journal.
Earlier, Estrella Santiago told the Inquirer her hope that authorities made a mistake in saying that her husband Iluminado was among nine OFWs killed when members of Signatories in Blood held foreign hostages at the gas plant.
While another four OFWs have been identified, their names have not been released. Their bodies will be repatriated in a number of days.
Since last week, the OWWA has been in touch with relatives of OFWs reportedly slain during the hostage crisis at the In Amenas gas plant, Dimzon said.
Relatives have been assured of government assistance, including such as the proper identification and speedy repatriation of their remains, Dimzon said.
Vice-President Jejomar Binay said Manila has been pushing the employers of the dead OFWs to release their unpaid salaries and foot repatriation costs.
The government has pledged P220,000 (Dh18,333) in death benefits for each of the spouses of the slain OFWs, Binay said. It has also come up with a livelihood assistance package, which includes medical assistance for the widows. In addition to this, the government will grant a scholarship to one child per each family.
Nine OFWs were reportedly killed during the hostage crisis, even though only eight fatalities have been confirmed, according to the Foreign Affairs Department. Seventeen OFWs were lucky to escape with their lives.
There are more than 1,700 OFWs in Algeria, many of them employed by companies in the power industry. More than nine million OFWs are based worldwide, representing 10 per cent of the Philippines’ population of 90 million.
The militant group that attacked the In Amenas gas plant included a Canadian, 11 Tunisians and three Algerians. The rest were from other countries in North Africa, Algerian authorities said.
Clashes between militants and Algerian forces resulted in the death of 29 militants and the arrest of three others.
Also killed were almost 40 hostages from Britain, France, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Romania, and United States, authorities added.