Bello directs OWWA to assist the families of OFWs killed in Riyadh fire

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III has directed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to facilitate the release of the death benefits and other assistance due to the families of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were killed in a fire at the Sulaimania District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

"My heart goes out to the deceased OFWs who died in a foreign land and also to their families," said Bello.

He added that OWWA, an attached agency of the Department, will provide the families assistance to mitigate their sufferings over the death of their loved ones.

Bello, who chairs the OWWA Board of Trustees, said they would "make sure the families of the OFWs would be able to collect the benefits due them, including insurance and unpaid wages from their employers."

Secretary Bello also instructed the OWWA to coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in the identification of the victims, particularly those who were OWWA members, and set in motion the welfare assistance due them.

Heirs of OWWA members who die in accidents are entitled to P200,000 in death benefit, while those who die of natural causes get P100,000. They are entitled to an additional P20,000 for funeral expenses.

OWWA members' dependents may also avail themselves of elementary and secondary education subsidies, scholarships in state colleges and universities, and livelihood programs.

On the other hand, families of non-OWWA members may avail themselves of a package of assistance from the National Reintegration Center for OFWs.

According to the reports, the victims were identified as Sahara Mapandi, 46 years old; Rema Mapandi, 8 years old; Ryan Mapandi, 7 years old; Dodio Guiamat, Karen Anne Guiamat, 31 years old and Aneeka Guiamat, 1 year and 3 months old.

Karen Anne, who worked as a nurse at Riyadh Military Hospital, was four months pregnant.

According to Taugan Mapandi, the husband and father of the deceased Mapandi family members, he left their home at around 6 a.m. last Saturday to go to work while his family members were still asleep. He received a call at around 7 a.m. from the caretaker of the flat informing him of the fire.

When he arrived at the scene, the three Mapandis were already rushed to different hospitals. He found out later when he checked on the hospitals that they died due to suffocation.

Source: Philippine Information Agency

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