The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is fast tracking the release of the package of benefits due to the families of two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Oman who died in the early morning of Saturday, 04 February 2017, when a fire gutted the workers’ accommodation.
Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello lll immediately instructed OWWA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac to immediately respond to the needs of the families left behind by OFWs Susan Padojinog and Emilia Bobo. OFW Bobo, who was one of the fatalities, celebrated her 41st birthday on 02 February 2017. The two OFWs worked as hairstylists at the Golden Coast Trading.
The families of the fire victims one from South Cotabato and the other from Quezon, were informed of the unfortunate incident by the Philippine Overseas Labor Officials (POLO) in Oman. There were twenty-two workers staying in the accommodation when the area was engulfed by the fire. Fifteen of the occupants were Filipino nationals.
Meanwhile, officials of POLO-OWWA, along with the representatives of the OFWs’ foreign recruitment agency (FRA) in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, visited the OFWs who suffered minor injuries due to the blaze. Eleven victims were confined at the Oman Royal Hospital, while one victim was brought to Oman Khoula Hospital for treatment as a result of smoke inhalation. Currently, the OFWs are reportedly in stable condition and are recuperating. The FRA paid for the victims’ hospital bills including medicines and laboratory exams/results.
OWWA Officer-in-Charge Josefino I. Torres assured the families of the victims that OWWA will closely coordinate with POLO-Oman and monitor the condition of the fire victims. He added that his office is awaiting for the advise on the repatriation of the human remains of the two fatalities and/or request for repatriation of the fire survivors.
“We are aware that although the victims have survived the incident, they may still be in trauma or in a state of shock considering that two of their co-workers did not make it. Thus, as part of the OWWA’s program and service, we may conduct psycho-social counseling to them when they arrive in case they decide to come home to be with their respective families,” OIC Torres said.
In the meantime, OIC Torres volunteers that the next-of-kin (NOK) of OFWs Padojinog and Bobo are entitled to full coverage of the agency’s programs and services since their relatives were active OWWA members at the time of their demise. He enumerated that these include death benefits due to accident of P200,000.00, P20,000 burial benefits, psycho-social counseling, scholarship and livelihood components of Education and Livelihood Assistance Program or ELAP i.e. livelihood package of P15,000.00 to the family’s business venture of their choice; and educational assistance to one OFW beneficiary from elementary, high school or college, as the case may be, until the child finishes college. OFWs are likewise covered by mandatory insurance by their respective recruitment/manning agencies.