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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Philippine Embassy finds burial site of four Filipino workers killed by ISIS militants

Remains of four Filipino workers kidnapped and killed by ISIS years ago located finally; forensic team to identify the remains

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the remains of four Filipino workers kidnapped and killed six years ago have been located.

Quoting a report from Benghazi, Libya, disclosed the remains of the Filipinos who were forcibly taken along with two other workers from Austria and the Czech Republic by ISIS militants who attacked the Ghani Oil Field in southern Libya on March 6,2015, and later executed by Islamic State (IS) extremists have been located finally in a cemetery in the eastern coastal city of Derna last Monday, March 1.

Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires and Head of Mission Elmer G. Cato said nothing was heard of the kidnapped oil workers until two years ago when a video showing their execution was found in a laptop from slain ISIS fighters in Derna. The six, employed by an Austrian contractor Value Added Oil Services (VAOS), had been presumed dead although their remains were never recovered.

It was in 2018 when 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 different parts of Derna and later buried there.

Chargé de’Affaires Cato said the unstable security conditions prevented the Embassy from sending a team to Derna to search for the four Filipinos. Last October, Embassy officials traveled to Benghazi and requested assistance from local authorities to find the remains.

Last Monday, Libyan military authorities assisted Embassy officials to the Dahr Ahmar Islamic Cemetery, some ten kilometers from Derna, where they said Donato Santiago, Gregorio Titan, Roldan Blaza and Wilson Eligue were buried after their bodies were recovered six years ago. The identities of the two other victims were not mentioned in the report.

Former newsman-turned-diplomat Cato said the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs (OMWA) has already informed the families of the four casualties and will make arrangements for forensics experts to assist the identifying the remains and bringing them home.

“After six long years, the families of our four kababayans will finally find closure,” Chargé d’Affaires Cato was quoted saying. He also expressed his thanks to the Libyan authorities for the assistance extended to them.

Chargé d’Affaires Cato added it was a promise he made to the families before he left for Libya in 2019. (Melo M. Acuña)

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