Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to exert all out efforts for the speedy repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were among the 17 people who died in a fire in Iraq's Kurdistan region.
Iraq Chargé d'Affaires Elmer Cato said the Philippine post in Iraq has been informed that 14 Filipinos were among those who perished in the hotel fire.
“The DFA must do everything possible to repatriate the remains of the deceased OFWs the soonest time. That is the best thing we can do to assuage the grief of their families,” said Marcos.
“To the families of these OFWs, I extend my deepest condolences and sympathies,” he added.
Likewise, Marcos urged the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to fast-track the release of whatever benefits and assistance the families of the deceased OFWs are entitled to receive.
“OWWA should immediately coordinate with the DFA to establish the identities of the victims and process the necessary documents so the benefits for their families can be readied even as the repatriation efforts are on-going,” said Marcos.
An active member of OWWA is covered by insurance for the duration of his employment contract. This includes P100,000.00 for death due to natural cause and P200,000.00 for death due to accident. Legal heirs of a deceased OFW are entitled to receive an additional P20,000 for funeral expenses.
In addition survivors of a deceased OFW are entitled to education assistance consisting of P5,000.00 for elementary, P 8,000.00 for high school and P10,000.00 for college per school year, as well as livelihood assistance amounting to P15,000.00 which is given to the surviving spouse.
Marcos has been pushing for better government support for OFWs in recognition of their contribution to our economy paid for by their personal sacrifices and hard work.
He noted that according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas figures, OFW remittances reached almost $23 billion from January to November of 2015, contributing to an estimated 10 percent of our country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“We have to do more for them. We always talk about “sila ang ating bagong bayani” tapos mayroong laglag-bala. Tapos mayroon yung binubuksan yung kanilang balikbayan box na wala namang problema. Hindi natin sila tinatrato ng mabuti,” said Marcos in a recent interview.
Marcos believes that what the government should set its eyes on is to create more jobs in the country so that our workers won’t be forced to leave their families behind in search of greener pastures.