MANILA - The Ministry of Tourism of Maldives said it would shoulder the cost of bringing back to the Philippines the remains of the Filipino couple who drowned in the tropical paradise while on their honeymoon.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato made the announcement in a tweet to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday.
"Sir @teddyboylocsin, Dhaka PE (Philippine Embassy) has just informed @DFAPHL that the Ministry of Tourism of the Maldives has conveyed to the #Philippines Honorary Consulate in Male that it would take care of the cost of bringing Leomer and Erika home," he said.
Long-time couple Leomer and Erika Joyce Lagradilla got married on December 18 and headed to the island paradise, one of their dream destinations, last Friday. They drowned off Dhiffushi island while snorkeling, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The DFA earlier said it would pay for the repatriation of the couple's remains.
On Tuesday, Leo Lagradilla, Leomer's father, said he still couldn't come to terms with how his eldest son and his wife were already gone.
"Anong nangyari, wala na? Anong nangyari sa anak ko at kay Erika? Mahirap tanggapin pero wala na kami magagawa. Tinatanong ko sila bakit, bakit kailangan mangyari? Sabi nila may plano si Lord para sa kanilang dalawa," he told ABS-CBN News.
(What happened? They're gone. What happened to my son and to Erika? It's hard to accept but there's nothing we can do. I am asking them why, why this had to happen? They said it's the Lord's plan for them.)
Details about the couple's death remain sketchy. Leomer reportedly drowned first, prompting his wife to call for help. When someone reached them, however, they were both "motionless, afloat on the surface of the water," a local news report said.
Both families, drawing strength among each other, are now also coordinating with the police who are investigating the incident. They are also awaiting feedback from the hotel where the couple had stayed.
The newlyweds were both nurses, based in Singapore and Riyadh, respectively.
Erika's father, Frederick Callado, remembers his 29-year-old daughter and Leomer as kind-hearted people who never let their families down.
"Hindi ako pinababayaan niyan. Lagi akong alagang-alaga niya... Wala akong masabi, pati kay Leomer, napakabait na bata," he told ABS-CBN News in an interview in the Callados' hometown Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
(She never neglected me. She always took good care of me. There's nothing I could say, even of Leomer, he was very kind.)