The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said that a Saipan-based overseas Filipino worker (OFW) is feared to be among the passengers who perished when the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars sunk off the coast of Sibuyan Island in Romblon at the height of Typhoon Frank last June 21.
Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque, citing a report from Labor Attaché Joan Lourdes Lavilla in Saipan, said Editha Lisbo Ybanez, who worked as a household service worker in Saipan, took the ill-fated vessel from Manila on her way home to visit her family in Surigao City.
Ybanez, 47 years old and single, is a native of Cantisay, Surigao City.
Roque said Ybanez who remains missing up to now, was listed in the passenger manifest of MV Princess of the Stars. Her kin is in Cebu waiting for developments on the recovery of bodies of passengers who drowned with the sunken vessel.
Roque, while expressing hopes on the possibility that Ybanez may still be alive, said that the DOLE and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are prepared to help the family of Ybañez in the event that the OFW has been identified as among those who perished in the tragedy.
The labor secretary said he has directed OWWA to monitor developments and immediately coordinate with authorities involved in the maritime tragedy once Ybañez's remains have been identified to expedite recovery and turnover of the remains to the OFW's family.
He added that OWWA personnel would also brief the concerned relatives of the mishap victim on the benefits that OWWA members are entitled to. He said the family of Ybanez would be entitled to insurance, death, and other benefits from OWWA.
He said Ybanez renewed her OWWA membership at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Saipan only last June 16. She was issued an overseas employment certificate the following day shortly before her departure from Saipan to Manila.
Under OWWA rules, a member is covered with life insurance for the duration of his/her overseas employment contract. The coverage includes P100,000 for natural death and P200,000 for accidental death. An additional burial benefit of P20,000 shall also be provided to the family of a deceased member.
Ybanez' nearest kin may also avail of scholarships from OWWA, Roque said as he advised OFWs and those seeking overseas jobs for the first time to ensure not only the legality of their overseas job applications but also their membership with OWWA prior to their deployment abroad.
Aside from insurance and scholarships, OWWA members are entitled to health care, family welfare assistance, and various services onsite, Roque said.