By Leslie Ann Aquino
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Friday said the remains of the 301 overseas Filipino workers who died from various causes in several regions of Saudi Arabia will be flown home by early next month.
The Labor chief said he was able to secure the approval of the Inter Agency Task Force for the repatriation of the deceased OFWs including the 152 who succumbed to COVID-19.
Based on their initial preparations, Bello said two chartered planes will separately fly the COVID-19 dead and the 149 who died of other causes.
“The bodies will be transported from various points to Riyadh and Jeddah, and will be flown back to the country by the second week of July,” he said in a statement.
Bello said the Labor department will notify the families of the arrival of the remains of their loved ones, along with their respective local government units to allow their domestic transport.
Upon arrival in the country, he said, the bodies of COVID-19 victims will be transported with the help of the Department of National Defense directly to the crematoriums of choice of the family or the LGU.
The remains of those who died of natural or other causes, meanwhile, will be allowed to be fetched at the airport by their respective families.
According to the Labor department, part of their preparations is the set of protocols from the Department of Health for the handling, reception and domestic transport of the dead COVID victims and the non-COVID casualties.
DOLE added that the three Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) will have to abide by the strict guidelines of both the Saudi and Philippine governments in the transport of the remains.