4 OFWs killed by ISIS in Libya to undergo forensic identification; employer to pay for repatriation

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 3) — Efforts to confirm the identites of four Filipino oil workers in Libya executed by Islamic State militants are in motion to bring their remains home as soon as possible.

Philippine Embassy in Tripoli Charge d'Affaires Elmer Cato on Wednesday said Libyan authorities requested the Philippines to send forensic experts to ascertain the identity of the four Filipinos abducted and executed in 2015. Their remains were located almost six years later.

The official said they have sought for the help of the National Bureau of Investigation in the Philippines to conduct DNA testing on the remains.

"Of course we need to be certain. That's the reason why even authorities are requesting the Philippine government to send forensic experts to be 100% sure that the remains belong to our missing kababayan," he told CNN Philippines.

Cato was informed by the NBI that it would take them one week to exhume and identify the bodies before they can be sent home. He added the employers of the late OFWs will shoulder the cost of repatriation.

The gravesites of Donato Santiago, Gregorio Titan, Roldan Blaza, and Wilson Eligu were found on Monday in the Dahr Ahmar Islamic Cemetery in the city of Derna with the help of Libyan authorities. The four Filipinos, who were with their two European co-workers, were kidnapped by ISIS fighters who attacked the Ghani Oil Field on March 6, 2015.

Cato said since the oil workers’ abduction, not much had been heard from them until 2017. This was when a video footage of their execution was supposedly found in a laptop seized from slain ISIS fighters in Derna. They were presumed dead, although their bodies were not recovered.

In 2018, Cato said they were informed that the remains of the four could be among those recovered and later buried by the Libyan Red Crescent in various parts of Derna. The Embassy explained that due to the unstable security situation, it was only able to send a search team to the city in October last year.