The bodies of the 13 Filipinos who died in a hotel fire in Iraq on Feb. 5 arrived in the country on Saturday.
Rebecca Calzado, the head of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa), joined members of the victims’ families for the 4 p.m. arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport cargo terminal.
Calzado said the remains would be brought to the respective hometowns of the victims in Luzon and Mindanao.
“I don’t know if the families from Mindanao can make it today but we are making arrangements with the airport,” she said.
Calzado said arrangements were also being made for the benefits to be paid to the families. Active Owwa members are entitled to social benefits and death benefits, she said.
The 13 Filipino women were killed when a fire broke out at the Capitol Hotel basement where they were working in the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq.
Authorities said they were suffocated by the smoke as they tried to make it out of the structure in the dark.
There are 1,500 Filipinos working in the Kurdistan region in north Iraq, mainly as engineers, nurses, household service workers, and hotel and restaurant employees.
The region has largely been spared from the deadly violence that plagues other parts of the country and is frequently visited by tourists from other areas of Iraq and various countries in the region.