MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is helping the relatives of the Filipina who was killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 crashed in eastern Ukraine last week, secure their passports and visas to the Netherlands.
DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said four relatives of Irene Pabellon-Gunawan went to the DFA on Monday to apply for their passports. The processing of their passports is being expedited to allow them to apply for a Dutch visa as soon as possible.
"We will help them with their visa application in going to the Netherlands. Their passports will be available this afternoon and the consular office will apply for the visas on their behalf," Jose said in a press conference.
Pabellon-Gunawan, her Indonesian husband Budy Janto Gunawan, and their two children Darryl Dwight, 20, and Sherryl Shania, 15, were among the 298 people aboard MH17. The Gunawans were based in Amsterdam, and Budy worked for Malaysia Airlines.
Jose said Pabellon-Gunawan's relatives also met with Malaysia Airlines representatives to discuss the travel arrangements for their trip to the Netherlands.
"The original offer of Malaysia Airlines is to fly two (relatives) so the airline is considering the request to add two more members to make it 4 - 2 kapatid, 2 pamangkin... Malaysia Airlines said it will consider the request," he said.
Jose noted that one of the relatives may have to fly to Ukraine to possibly identify the remains of Pabellon-Gunawan and her family.
"Their first stop is the Netherlands. Their sister there requested them to join her in the Netherlands. Once clear na yun remains, one of them has to go to the Ukraine to help in the identification of the remains," he said.
However, Jose said the status of the remains of the MH17 passengers is still unclear.
"We have been receiving reports from international news that rebels have taken hold of the bodies, so this is something that we would like our embassy in Moscow to verify and confirm," he said.
Reuters on Monday reported that rescuers found 251 bodies and 86 fragments of bodies by late on Sunday at the crash site of a Malaysian airliner and a second train with refrigerator wagons to take the remains away has arrived, quoting a Ukrainian government committee.
In a statement, the committee investigating the disaster said the first train where the remains of almost 200 victims have been placed before starting their journey home was stuck in the station in the town of Torez because "terrorists are blocking its exit". - With Reuters