No unclaimed Filipino dead in Kish morgues, says DFA

August 12, 2010 7:38 am 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Aug. 11 — There appears to be no unclaimed Filipino dead in the island of Kish in southern Iran, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Wednesday, contrary to wild reports.

Controversy over the month-long delay in the repatriation of the remains of a 24-year old Filipino jobseeker who died in Kish sparked allegations that about a dozen more Filipino dead were unclaimed in the same morgue in Kish where his body was kept.

Because of the allegations, the DFA asked its network of supposedly reliable Filipino contacts in Kish to verify the information. The Filipino leaders, among them a dentist and a hotel worker, reported back that there was no truth to the allegations.

The death of a Filipino in Kish, much less reports of unclaimed bodies, would not go unnoticed in the small and tight Filipino community there, the leaders told the Philippine embassy in Tehran. Kish is relatively difficult to access from Tehran, according to the DFA.

And this was supposedly supported by an official of Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), who would normally have informed the Philippine embassy in Tehran if there had been any death of a Filipino or if his remains were unclaimed.

“It is normal procedure for host governments to inform the concerned embassy of the death of a foreign national. The MFA officials assured us that once a report from the concerned authorities in Kish Island is received, they will immediately convey it to us,” the DFA said, quoting embassy official Mariano Dumia.

Jobseeker Mark Lloyd Carmen was stabbed to death in Kish on July 1 by a man from Sudan during a heated altercation inside their hotel on the island.

The DFA explained the delay was due to meager funds for the repatriation since only a small sum could be used for the victim — an undocumented worker — despite good intentions under the DFA's Assistance to Nationals Fund. Eventually, Taguig Rep. Dante Tinga helped with funds to fly Carmen’s relative to Iran to claim his remains in late July. The remains arrived last week.

Kish is about 20 kilometers from mainland Iran’s southernmost shores and a popular transit point for Filipinos on a visa run in the Middle East, notably neighboring Dubai.

The DFA says there are between 2,500 to 3,000 Filipinos in Kish at any one time. Most of them are in the island, which is nearer Dubai than Tehran, to wait for work visas for the United Arab Emirates and neighboring Middle Eastern countries.

Iran’s ambassador to Manila, Ali Mojtaba Rouzbehani, said Filipinos on a tourist visa to Kish can stay for an initial two weeks and extend it one more week. (PNA)



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