Opt for cremation, Bello urges kin of OFWs who died of non-COVID-19 causes
MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday advised families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who died due to causes unrelated to COVID-19 to opt for the cremation of their remains, which are set to return home from Saudi Arabia next week.
“Under the strict protocol na ‘yung mga namatay sa COVID-19 ay dapat pagdating na pagdating dito ay kaagad i-cremate. Ngayon yung mga kamag-anak ng mga namatay na hindi naman dahil sa COVID-19, we will also encourage them na i-cremate na rin, para sa ganun hindi na rin sila mahirapan sa pagta-transport kung saan man iyon dadalhin,” Bello said in an online interview with reporters.
(Under the strict protocol, the remains of the OFWs who died of COVID-19 will be immediately cremated upon arrival. Now, the families of those who died of other causes, we will also encourage them to have the remains of their loved ones cremated so that it would not be difficult to transport them).
Nevertheless, Bello said it would still be up to the families of OFWs whether or not they would agree to have their loved ones’ remains cremated.
“It’s up for them to decide whether papayag sila ma-cremate or hindi na pero alam mo meron pa ring health protocol diyan imposed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government na within 24 hours dapat malibing pa rin ang mga minamahal sa buhay na namatay kahit hindi by COVID-19,” the labor secretary said.
(It’s up for them to decide whether they will allow for the cremation or not but the Department of Interior and Local Government still has health protocols which give families 24 hours to have the remains of their relatives buried even if they did not die due to COVID-19.)
The Philippine government is set to bring home the remains of 44 OFWs from Saudi Arabia this Friday, including 19 who died of COVID-19.
The 44 deceased Filipinos are among the cadavers of the 274 OFWs from Saudi Arabia who are scheduled for repatriation to the Philippines.
Of the 274 OFWs, 123 succumbed to COVID-19 while the rest died of other causes, Bello said.
Based on international health regulations, the cadavers 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 government has already coordinated with 15 crematorium facilities where the bodies of the OFWs who died from COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia would be burned.
He then appealed for understanding to the families of the remaining deceased OFWs who are yet to be repatriated, explaining that the bodies could not be brought home all at once due to the number of documentary requirements and the limited capacity for the flight. [ac]
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