By Genalyn Kabiling
The government has given the green light for the return to the country of the remains of all overseas Filipino workers who died of the new coronavirus disease and other causes, Malacañang announced Friday.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) has expressed support for the decision of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on the repatriation of the remains of the OFWs, according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
“Pauuwiin natin ang mga labi ng lahat ng namatay na Pilipino sa Saudi Arabia at iba pang mga lugar kasama na pati yung mga namatay dahil sa COVID-19. (We will bring home the remains of all Filipinos who died in Saudi Arabia and other places including those who died of COVID-19),” Roque said during a press briefing.
As of June 25, the DFA reported 8,361 confirmed cases of coronavirus among Filipinos abroad. The death toll among Filipinos abroad reached 513. Most of the deaths were reported in the Middle East, Americas, and Europe.
Recently, Saudi Arabia asked the Philippine government to bring home the remains of the OFWs who died in the Gulf state.
At least 353 OFWs reportedly passed away in Saudi Arabia, including 107 who died due to the viral illness.
The government earlier said it would dispatch three airplanes to bring home the remains of those who died in Saudi Arabia.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier said overseas Filipino workers are considered the country’s modern-day heroes and should be treat as one. He has promised the families of the OFWs will be given assistance and other benefits following the loss of their loved ones.