Bishop Ruperto Santos said the victims were working abroad to provide better futures for their families. (Photo: UCA News)
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has expressed its condolences to the families of two overseas Filipino workers who died in a restaurant gas explosion in Abu Dhabi in the Middle East.
The Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Case of Migrants and Itinerant People chaired by Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said the victims were considered “heroes” for working abroad to provide better futures for their families.
“I laud them for their bravery and courage to continue working abroad despite the coronavirus pandemic. I was told they could have opted to go home and to be with their loved ones. But because of financial difficulty, they opted to work away from their families,” Bishop Santos told UCA News.
The Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Sept. 1 confirming that two Filipinos had died in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
"It is with deep sadness that the embassy shares the latest information that two Filipinos died from the unfortunate accident yesterday caused by a gas explosion at a restaurant at Sheikh Rashid Bin Seed Road,” said the statement.
Philippine ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn Quintana said President Rodrigo Duterte had expressed his condolences to the victims’ families in the Philippines.
“The president has assured their families that everything will be taken care of by the Philippine government, including the transport of the remains of the two,” said Quintana.
Bishop Santos, however, said the government’s role in international labor was not only confined in bringing remains to the Philippines but in assuring workers’ safety in their place of work and accommodation abroad.
“We are praying for the strength of their families to hold on to God and rise up from this tragic event. OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] must pray for peace that makes them rise above fear and death,” Bishop Santos said.
He said the explosion was an “eye-opener” among Filipinos to see the “difficulties and dangers” overseas workers face every day.
“Our OFWs do not only face the hardship of being separated from their loved ones. They too face the danger of getting killed in accidents and other unforeseen events that may bring more poverty to their loved ones because there is already no one who would work for them,” said Bishop Santos.
He extended his gratitude to the Philippine embassy in Abu Dhabi for assisting the victims and their families.
“Let us always pray for our overseas Filipino workers and always do what is best for them,” Bishop Santos added.
Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon said that while the workers’ deaths were unfortunate, their loved ones’ future was uncertain.
“I hope that their families have other sources of income. Their death will surely have a big impact in their finances since they do not have someone other than the victims to work for their family,” Bishop Baylon told UCA News.