Remains of more than 350 deceased OFWs still to be repatriated

Published October 16, 2020, 5:32 PM

by Roy Mabasa

More than 350 remains of Filipinos who died from various causes, including from COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) infections in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, are still awaiting repatriation, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.

As of today, the total number of remains of Filipinos in the Kingdom is 356, covering only those who died in Riyadh region, Eastern region, and the Central and Northern Border regions. Of that total, 86 are female, and 270 are male.

The DFA said that some 85 percent of all the remains are from “non-Covid-related cases.”

For the last several months, the families and loved ones of the dead Filipinos in Saudi Arabia have been appealing to the Philippine government to facilitate the repatriation process of the remains amid the strict flight and travel restrictions that currently exist in the Kingdom.

Last month, some 35 remains of OFWs from Saudi Arabia were repatriated through the assistance of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). 

The fifth batch of the mass repatriation of fallen heroes included 12 remains from Jeddah, 21 from Al Khobar, and two from Riyadh. Thirty succumbed to COVID-19 related diseases, while five died of other causes.

“We’re doing this not just because it’s our duty. This is the government’s way of paying respect and giving recognition to our modern-day heroes’ valuable contribution to the growth of the Filipino families and the country,” DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III was quoted as saying.

Last month’s batch of repatriated bodies brings to 302 the total number of remains that arrived from Saudi Arabia, according to the Labor Department. 

Last June, King Salman of Saudi Arabia gave the Philippines 72 hours to bring home all the remains of Filipinos who died in the Kingdom, including fatalities due to COVID-19 infections.