Despite ‘enormous hurdles,’ PH brings home remains of 49 OFWs from Saudi
MANILA, Philippines — The remains of 49 overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) from Saudi Arabia, including those who had died of COVID-19, arrived in the Philippines Friday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.
Of the 49 OFWs, 20 succumbed to COVID-19 while the other 29 died of other causes, according to DOLE.
“(D)espite the enormous hurdles, we have brought back the first 49 remains of our deceased OFWs from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a statement.
The remains were initially scheduled to be flown home by July 4 but the repatriation was delayed due to logistical challenges.
“We sincerely apologize for the much-delayed homecoming owing to the lockdowns, and strenuous processes that we have to undergo for their return,” Bello told the bereaved families.
“The added anxiety to the families caused by the suspended homeward journey is certainly undeserved,” he added.
The 49 OFWs made up the first batch of remains to be repatriated by the government. The remains of over 200 more OFWs are set for repatriation in the coming days.
“(N)ext to be brought back are those from Jeddah and other parts of the region,” the labor secretary said.
Bello also gave assurance that the Philippine government “will continue to fly home all our dead, and if need be, not only from the Middle East but also from all over the world.”
“To endeavor on the repatriation of the human remains of our OFWs of this magnitude is a first for the government,” he said.
“As we grieve with the families left behind by all our OFW heroes, including those already buried overseas and those flown home ahead, we give our highest respects and gratitude for their heroic sacrifices for the country,” he added.
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