CALOOCAN CITY, July 9 (PIA) -- The remains of 44 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who died in Saudi Arabia are set to arrive on Friday, July 10, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III today announced.
During the Laging Handa public briefing powered by the Presidential Communications and affiliate media, Bello said the remains is scheduled to arrive at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
"The cadavers of the OFWs are scheduled to arrive at around 10:00 a.m. on a Philippine Airlines flight," he said, expounding that of the 44 bodies to be flown from Riyadh and Al Khobar, 19 succumbed to COVID-19, while 25 died of natural causes.
"Doon sa 44 [remains], 19 ang COVID at 'yung 25 ay natural causes. They will be arriving tomorrow at 10:55," he said.
"Nandito po ako ngayon sa Villamor Airbase at nag-dry run kami sa pagdating ng 44 OFWs," he added, saying those who died of the coronavirus disease will be immediately brought to crematoriums.
"Pagdating na padgating ng OFWs, 'yung mga namatay dahil sa COVID-19 ay agad-agad isakay sa sasakyan ng crematorium at dadalhin sila doon at icre-cremate agad," he explained.
"Yun namang namatay sa natural causes may option 'yung relatives nila either to get the remains or they can also agree to the cremation," he added.
"Of the 25 na namatay sa natural causes, already 80% opted to be cremated. Kailangan ilibing ang kanilang kamag-anak within 24 hours," he furthered.
However. Bello said in another interview by media that the families of the deceased OFWs would not be allowed to go to Villamor. "They will have to wait at the crematoriums to get the ashes of their relatives."
He said the DOLE has sought extension from the Saudi government to bring home the other remains of Filipinos.
"Meron na naman [extension]... In fact, yung 44 will be followed by another 44 on Sunday, dadating na naman ito sa Monday," he said.
"And we will do that until we have repatriated all our dead OFWs," he added, as he assured the families of OFWs who died that they will bring back the remains at all cost. "Gagawin po natin ang lahat kasi yun po ang utos ng ating Pangulo."
The labor chief also announced that government would be providing assistance to the bereaved families.
"Lahat ng 274 na namatay na kababayan natin ay meron silang bereavement benefit. Ngayon karamihan diyan sigurado ako ay merong insurance coverage kasi hindi ka pwedeng ma-deploy kung hindi ka covered ng insurance," he said.
"Lahat ng mga iyan will be entitled to the P10,000 death benefit from insurance companies," he added. (PIA NCR)