MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is set to start arrangements to fly home the remains of four Filipinos found in Libya, six years after they were reported abducted by ISIS militants.
Philippine Embassy in Tripoli Chargé d’Affaires and Head of Mission Elmer Cato said the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs (OMWA) has conveyed the latest development to the victims’ families in the Philippines and will make arrangements for forensics experts to assist in identifying the remains and bringing them home.
“After six long years, the families of our four kababayans will finally find closure,” Cato said in a statement.
The DFA earlier said the Filipino workers, identified as Donato Santiago, Gregorio Titan, Roldan Blaza, and Wilson Eligue, were forcibly taken with two co-workers from Austria and the Czech Republic by ISIS extremists who attacked the Ghani Oil Field in southern Libya on March 6, 2015.
Cato said nothing much had been heard from the kidnapped foreign oil workers until a video showing their execution was found in a laptop seized from slain ISIS fighters in Derna two years later.
The six had since been presumed dead although their bodies were never recovered.
Sometime in 2018, Cato said the Embassy was informed that the remains of the four missing Filipinos could be among those that have been recovered by the Libyan Red Crescent Society in various parts of Derna and later buried there.
“However, due to the unstable security situation, the Embassy was not able to send a team to Derna to search for the four Filipinos,” Cato said.
“It was only in October that Embassy officials were able to travel to Benghazi and request the assistance of authorities in finding the four,” he added.
Cato said that on March 1, the Libyan military led Embassy officials in locating the bodies of the four Filipinos that were buried in Dahr Ahmar Islamic Cemetery, 10 kilometers from Derna.
The DFA official has expressed gratitude for the assistance extended by Libyan authorities.
Workers in the Czech Republic, including Filipino workers, will receive an increase in their monthly minimum wage starting January 2021.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) announced the good news as the Republic’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs emphasized that workers will receive a monthly minimum wage of 15,200 Czech Koruna (CZK) up to 30,400 CZK, based on the worker’s job classification.
Starting next year, the following monthly rates will apply to workers with a specified weekly working time of 40 hours:
CZK 15,200 (P33,000) for kitchen helpers, seamstresses, cleaners, delivery man (1st classification of jobs)
CZK 16,800 (P37,000) for diggers, scaffolders, maids, traffic aids or asphalt layers (2nd classification of jobs)
CZK 18,500 (P40,000) for bricklayers, plumber, plumber and heating engineers, waiter, bartender, barber (3rd classification of jobs)
CZK 20,500 (P45,000) for guide and interpreters, specialist chef, tailor in model and custom productions (4th classification of jobs)
CZK 22,600 (P49,000) for bus drivers, dispatchers, paramedics, general nurses, midwives, accountants market researchers, kindergarten teachers (5th classification of jobs)
CZK 24,900 (P53,000) for sales clerks, special pedagogues, network administrators, and IT system creators (6th classification of jobs)
CZK 27,500 (P60,000) for financial experts, doctors, pharmacists, marketing experts or programmers (7thclassification of jobs)
CZK 30,400 (P67,000) for experts in financial and businesses organizations, and scientists (8th classification of jobs)
Meanwhile, the new minimum wage rates are still subject to deductions for income tax and social security contributions.
The said increase in the minimum wage was made by the Government of Czech in consideration to the demand of the union and the business sector in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said that over 1 million Filipino workers have been displaced due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
The Labor Department on Sunday (April 12) reported that 1,048,649 workers in the formal sector were affected after several establishments had to temporarily close down while others implement flexible work arrangements due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
DOLE reported that Metro Manila has the highest displacement numbers with 246,810 affected workers. Central Luzon followed with 179,875 workers, and Calabarzon listed third with 99,178 affected workers.
The government already allotted P1.6 billion financial assistance through DOLE. However, it will only be enough for over 300,000 workers.
Due to this, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is calling on big time private companies to assist their employees who are unable to work due to the ECQ.
Based on the latest DOLE report, only around 200,000 workers have received the financial assistance from the special amelioration program. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)
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