Repatriation of remains of deceased OFWs in Saudi delayed; Saudi gov’t extends deadline

Published July 4, 2020, 12:03 AM

by Leslie Aquino

The repatriation of the remains of the nearly 300 deceased overseas Filipino workers from Saudi Arabia has been delayed. 

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR. / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Friday said that the repatriation of the remains of the OFWs is delayed due to the “pending release of documentary requirements, and our common desire to strictly adhere to the health protocols in transporting them.”

Bello earlier said the country needs to bring home the remains of the dead OFWs by July 4 or the Saudi government will bury them.

But on Friday, the DOLE announced that the July 4 deadline set by the Saudi government has been extended.

“The July 4 deadline has been extended to early next week for us to fly home our beloved modern day heroes,” Bello said in a statement on July 3.

Earlier, the Labor chief said that from 301 remains of the dead OFWs that will be brought home, it is now down to 274.

Bello explained that some of those who died, particularly of COVID-19, were already buried in Saudi.

“Twenty three of the 152 who died of COVID were already buried. It was permitted by the next of kin,”  he said.

Bello also received a notice from Saudi that they buried three more from those who died of COVID.

“So we are talking of only 129 OFWs who died of COVID. As to the 149 who died of natural causes, four were already repatriated by their relatives,” he said.

“We are talking only of 274 (dead OFWs),” added Bello.

The Labor chief said they are doing their best to meet all the health protocols and requirements including the permission of the next of kin of the dead OFWs.

 
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