The remains of 49 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Saudi Arabia, some of whom died due to COVID-19, arrived today at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.
Encased in caskets, the bodies were transferred to Villamor Airbase where they were disinfected in front of a crowd which included Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, one of the members of the government’s anti-coronavirus task force. He said in a speech that 20 of the deceased died of COVID-19,Â while the rest died of natural causes.
Thirty-two of the OFWs were residents of Dammam and while 17 were from Riyadh.
“It’s a sad day for all of us. In the first of a series of repatriation of human remains of Filipino workers, we have brought home today 49 of our countrymen, our modern-day heroes, OFWs who toiled overseas to chase the dream of a better life for their families and loved ones…To the families and loved ones of the deceased OFWs, we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences,” he said.
After blessing the caskets, they were brought to crematoriums where their families are waiting. At least 200 more dead bodies will be arriving from the Middle Eastern kingdom in the next few days.
In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that the Philippine government faced “enormous hurdles” in bringing the bodies home. The OFWs were supposed to be brought to the country on July 4, but it was delayed due to the lockdowns.
The Department of Foreign Affairs estimated that there are at least 800,000 Filipinos in the kingdom, a popular destination of workers since the 1980s.
This article, Bodies of 49 Filipino workers who died in Saudi Arabia arrive in Pasay City, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!