MANILA - The Philippines's foreign department has asked Saudi Arabia to attend to the plight of Filipino migrant workers there, citing several pending cases that need to be "urgently resolved," an official said Tuesday following the death of a Filipino there who had COVID-19 symptoms.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. made the request to Ambassador Abdullah Al Bussairy in their meeting Monday, according to Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez.
Marcelo Tanyag III died earlier this month without receiving treatment after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 due to his employer's alleged neglect.
Philippine Ambassador to Riyadh Adnan Alonto earlier said the embassy would look into legal liabilities of the employer, Meñez said.
“SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs) reiterated that there are several pending cases that need to be urgently resolved and the DFA will send an itemized list of all pending cases to the Saudi Government,” Meñez said.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Locsin and Al Bussairy discussed improving access to health and support services for overseas Filipinos affected by the pandemic, and treatment of the remains of those who passed away due to COVID-19.
“The difficulty is as much with us—we have few flights and they're erratic—as it is with their administrative process,” Locsin , who asked for the help of Saudi's foreign ministry to bring back the remains of the Filipino dead, said in a tweet.
“I was heartened and ever more grateful to learn that Saudi Arabia has such a profound respect for people—their own or any others regardless of religion—that they extend the same respectful care. I told him that here when my cousin died of Covid he was just taken away and burned,” he added.
To address limited flights between the two countries, the DFA will continue working closely with local civil aviation authorities on the urgent need to allow the resumption of as many flights as possible. --Report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News