DOLE: Return of OFWs’ remains from Saudi to be ‘delayed,’ deadline moved to ‘early next week’
MANILA, Philippines — The scheduled return of the remains of deceased overseas Filipino workers from Saudi Arabia will be delayed, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Friday.
In a statement, Bello said the delay was due to the “pending release of documentary requirements and our common desire to strictly adhere to the health protocols in transporting them.”
“The July 4 deadline has been extended to early next week for us to fly home our beloved modern-day heroes,” he added.
The Saudi government had given the Philippines until July 4 to fly home the remains of the OFWs, including those who succumbed to COVID-19, from the Middle Eastern country.
Bello earlier said two planes would be chartered for the repatriation of the remains.
Based on international health regulations, the corpses of individuals who died from an infectious disease should be cremated before being transported.
The initial decision of the IATF was to bury the remains of the OFWs who died from COVID-19 since Saudi Arabia does not allow cremation.
However, the families of the Filipino migrant workers who died from COVID-19 requested that their loved ones be brought home.
The IATF later approved the repatriation of the remains of the OFWs who died from COVID-19.
According to Bello, the families of OFWs who succumbed to COVID-19 are entitled to receive P750,000 to P900,000 worth of insurance benefits.
“They are entitled to bereavement benefits at tsaka itong insurance. Medyo malaki-laki ang insurance dahil hindi natural death ‘yung kanila, may infection, so aabot ‘yan siguro mga P750,000 to P900,000 maliban sa kanilang death and burial benefits from OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration),” the labor secretary said in a radio interview Friday morning.
(They are entitled to bereavement benefits and insurance. Their insurance is quite high because they died due to infection to the virus so that it may reach P750,000 to P900,000, excluding their death and burial benefits from OWWA.)
Latest figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) showed that over 8,600 overseas Filipinos had contracted COVID-19. Of the number, over 6,000 were reported in the Middle East or Africa region.
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