MANILA: The Philippines is seeking to recover the remains of four nationals alleged to have been killed by Daesh in Libya.
The Filipinos, identified as Donato Santiago, Gregorio Titan, Roladan Blaza, and Wilson Eligue, were abducted five years ago in southern Libya while they were working for an oil firm. Reports said that Daesh members broke into the company compound, killing security guards and kidnapping foreign workers.
The Philippine Embassy’s chargé d’affaires, Elmer Cato, told the media late on Friday that authorities were coordinating with groups in Libya to help families of the victims.
“Five years on their families just want closure,” Cato said. “That’s why they are hoping that the remains of the victims could at least be brought back home. The four Filipinos were abducted along with five other foreign workers from the Al Ghani Oil Field, about 700 km southeast of Tripoli.”
Cato added that there were no leads in the case until 2017, when authorities in the city of Derna said that the abducted workers were executed by retreating Daesh fighters.
A 2015 video recovered by the Derna Shoura Council — from a laptop belonging to Daesh members — purportedly showed the four Filipinos being killed by militants. Their remains, however, were never found.
Cato said the embassy was in touch with the families of the slain workers, as well as with the firm that had employed them and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“The embassy has been working with the ICRC which is spearheading the efforts to recover the remains of the victims,” Cato told Arab News. “The ICRC has been working with local authorities in identifying the area where the bodies were believed to have been buried.”
He said the embassy had been informed that the bodies of the four were buried somewhere in Derna, and that the ICRC had been working closely with authorities to ascertain the exact location of the site.
“We are hoping that the security situation in the area is now stable enough to allow the recovery and identification of the victims. We hope our kababayan (countrymen) can be found soon so we can bring them home and reunite them with their loved ones.”
There were more than 2,000 Filipinos in Libya as of 2019, although fighting between rival militias for control of Tripoli has prompted some to return.
The Philippines is one of the world’s biggest providers of labor, with a tenth of its population working abroad.
On March 6, the anniversary of their abduction, Cato tweeted: “Today, @PhinLibya remembers four Filipino oil workers who were taken by ISIS from the Al Ghani oil field in Libya exactly five years ago and have not been heard of since then. We pray that they would soon be found and reunited with their loved ones back home.”