Remains of 71 OFWs who died in Saudi Arabia to be flown home Sunday, says OWWA


Posted at Jul 18 2020 12:41 PM | Updated as of Jul 18 2020 12:55 PM

MANILA - The remains of 71 Filipino workers who died in Saudi Arabia, including some 40 who succumbed to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), comprising another batch of remains the Philippine government is repatriating, will be flown home Sunday, an official said Saturday.

Hans Leo Cacdac, Administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, said in a televised briefing that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III will oversee the arrival of the remains.

On July 10, the remains of 49 OFWs from two areas in Saudi Arabia, including around 19 who died due to COVID-19, arrived in the Philippines.

Bello had said a total of 274 remains of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia will be flown home. Earlier, the Saudi government gave Manila a deadline to repatriate the remains of its nationals.

According to Cacdac, the families of OFWs who die abroad receive aid from government, including cremation or burial services, on top of death, livelihood and scholarship benefits that an active OWWA member can obtain.

Meanwhile, nearly 100,000 OFWs whose jobs are affected by the pandemic have been repatriated by the government, of whom, almost 95,000 were already transported back to their respective home provinces in the country, Cacdac said.

At a hearing in the House of Representatives on Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said some 50,000 more OFWs are expected to arrive this month, or some 150,000 in the coming months, according to the labor department, said Cacdac.

He said the DOLE’s immediate financial assistance to the displaced OFWs have already amounted to P2.5 billion, benefiting around 230,000 individuals.

An additional P1 billion was provided by the Department of Budget and Management, on the request of Bello, to benefit an additional 100,000 displaced OFWs, said Cacdac.

The DMB also gave OWWA additional funds for its continued assistance program. Cacdad said OWWA’s Board of Trustees has approved a scholarship assistance for one college dependent of every returning OFW.

The OWWA, he said, is looking as early as August to also start its livelihood assistance program for repatriated OFWs.