THE body of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who died in a posh hotel in Iraq Friday is set to arrive in Manila today, Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

Quoting a report by the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad, the DFA said the repatriation of Maricar Cente's remains comes despite her not being a registered member of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa).

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

To recall, Cente died after Hotel Soma in Sulaymaniyah City, Northern Iraq was gutted by fire late Thursday. She worked for Asiacell Mobile Company, which office was located inside the hotel.

The fire incident resulted to the death of 28 other people with nearly half of it found to be foreigners.

Two other Filipinos were injured in the blaze with Morelo Ermitano still in an area hospital nursing a broken leg, while Ritchie Salcedo has already been discharged from the hospital Friday.

"Nonetheless, the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) instructed the Embassy, last Friday, to fast track the repatriation of Cente's remains with her company's expense," said the DFA in a statement.

The department added that benefits of Cente are also being arranged by the RP embassy.

OFWs swells in Iraq, Afghanistan

Amid deployment ban, the number of OFWs in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to increase, according to a recruitment consultant Sunday.

In a statement, Emmanuel Geslani said there are more than 10,000 and 7,000 OFWs currently working in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively.

Geslani said the government should realize that continuous banning of deployment in the war-torn countries is only putting OFWs into higher risks.

"The Philippine government needs to review the bans on these countries as OFWs continue to defy it and seek work in those areas in view of the attractive salaries and benefits given by the U.S. and other European contractors."

He said proof of this is the recent death of a Filipina engineer, who was burned to death last Friday together with three other telecommunications engineers in a hotel fire in Iraq.

He added that a Filipino volunteer working for the USAID got wounded three weeks ago after their quarters were attacked by Taliban militants in Afghanistan.

Geslani believed the ban will remain "useless" as long as Filipinos get attracted to good paying jobs in those countries.

He stressed that Filipinos remain as among the top choice of workers among foreign employers due to their work ethics and professionalism.

"It is high time that the government lifts the ban so that our workers will be legalized and given protection that they deserve since they too are contributing to the economy."

It can be recalled that the government imposed deployment bans in the two countries after operations of the War on Terror began in 2001 in Afghanistan and in 2003 in Iraq in a bid to avoid having Filipinos being placed in danger. (AMN/Sunnex)