Today, we join the bereaved families of our fallen modern-day heroes as we receive them back on our soil, and give them honors in an extremely extraordinary situation.
We sincerely apologize for the much-delayed homecoming owing to the lockdowns, and strenuous processes that we have to undergo for their return.
The added anxiety to the families caused by the suspended homeward journey is certainly undeserved.
But despite the enormous hurdles, we have brought back the first 49 remains of our deceased OFWs from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
And the government of President Duterte will continue to fly home all our dead, and if need be, not only from the Middle East but also from all over the world.
If today we have 32 of our beloved OFWs from Dammam and 17 from Riyadh, next to be brought back are those from Jeddah and other parts of the region.
To endeavor on the repatriation of the human remains of our OFWs of this magnitude is a first for the government.
This would not have been possible sans the whole-of-government approach we took.
We thank the collaborative efforts of the various agencies which include the DFA, DOH and the Bureau of Quarantine, DILG, DND, DOTr, MIAA, the Bureau of Customs, the POEA and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
As we grieve with the families left behind by all our OFW heroes, including those already buried overseas and those flown home ahead, we give our highest respects and gratitude for their heroic sacrifices for the country. Our nation is most honored!