MANILA - The Philippine Airlines said Saturday it has flown home some 49 bodies of Filipinos from two areas in Saudi Arabia, part of government efforts to bring home remains of overseas Filipino workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 49 human remains, "around 19" were "COVID-19 related," said PAL Spokesperson Cielo Villaluna.
Villaluna said the flight (PR683) departed Manila for Riyadh on July 9 to collect the first batch of cadavers, and flew to Dammam to claim more human remains.
“Ang ruta: umalis ng July 9, lumipad to Riyadh and picked up human remains ng ating mga kababayan, and from there lumipad patungo sa Dammam where they picked up more remains and then nag-continue on to Manila,” Villaluna told Teleradyo, Saturday.
(The plane departed July 9, then flew to Riyadh and picked up human remains of our countrymen. From there, the plane flew to Dammam where they picked up more remains and then continued on to Manila.)
The plane arrived in Manila on July 10, with the bodies of those who did not perish due to COVID-19 blessed in a ceremony at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
The COVID-19 related deaths were immediately transported to funeral homes, where grieving families could wait for their cremation, Villaluna said, citing health protocols.
However, Villaluna said majority of the families of the repatriates were from the provinces and could not make it. The Philippine Army was tapped to ferry the remains to their loved ones.
The repatriation is part of government efforts to transport home remains of Filipino migrant workers stuck in Saudi Arabia.
The government since Friday has started to roll out flights for remains of Filipino migrant workers in the kingdom.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier said the next batch of repatriation is scheduled on Sunday.