57 more OFW bodies set to arrive from Saudi

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    FIFTY-SEVEN seven more bodies of deceased overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia are set to be repatriated on July 28, according to the Labor Department.

    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the 57 will form the third batch of repatriated remains and will be brought home via a chartered Philippine Airlines flight.

    “Preliminary figures from the overseas offices of DOLE and the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh indicate those ready for repatriation are 57 OFW remains, who all died of coronavirus disease (COVID-19),” Bello said, adding 30 bodies will come from Jeddah, 20 from Riyadh, and 7 from Al Khobar.

    “We will accord our fallen modern-day heroes the same grand welcome and memorial ceremonies due them upon their arrival,” said Bello, adding they will be brought immediately to the crematorium on arrival.

    “Our government shares the grief of the bereaved families of our dear OFWs. But we continue to seek their understanding to strictly adhere to the protocols for their own good and that of our communities,” Bello explained.

    Last July 10, the first batch of deceased OFW repatriates from Saudi Arabia were brought home composed of 49 remains, including 20 who died of COVID-19, and 29 from other causes.

    On Sunday, 88 more bodies were flown home, including 45 who died from COVID-19, while the other 43 died from other causes.

    There are 274 OFW bodies that that have filed up in Saudi Arabia since February.

    Meanwhile, the number of OFWs affected by COVID-19 who have applied for financial aid under the government’s Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) for OFW program now stands at 574,442.

    “Latest reports from DOLE’s overseas offices and OWWA showed that 240,583 requests for assistance under the government’s AKAP program have been approved,” the DOLE said.