DOLE hopes for end in mass repatriation of ‘fallen’ OFWs

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) vowed to relentlessly repatriate overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid 19) as long as government resources permit. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said “if the means are available, DOLE will not get tired of bringing home our migrant workers dead or alive.” Bello made the statement upon the arrival in the country yesterday of 54 more dead OFWs from Saudi Arabia.

“I’m hoping this is the last batch of dead OFWs arriving not because the government is tired of receiving them but due to the fact that it’s very painful to welcome dead heroes who served their families and country well,” Bello said.

Bello said “I wished they came home alive just like the other thousands of migrant workers we already repatriated and are now with their families.”

“I salute to these fallen migrant workers. Fallen because like soldiers, they don’t choose where to be taken. All they choose is to protect the future of their loved ones and their homeland,” he said.

Bello said it is for that reason that the government has been holding grand reception for the repatriated bodies of the migrant workers.

Yesterday’s batch was the third in the massive drive of the government to bring home Filipino workers who died abroad amid the pandemic.

The arrival of the 54 remains of OFWs makes the total count of repatriated dead migrant workers at 191.

Bello took note that the massive repatriation of displaced OFWs is a first in Philippine history.

“It’s a feat. It’s a first in the country. But I really pray it’s the last because more of this means more suffering and grief for many Filipino families,” he said.

But in the unfortunate event that the pandemic and other diseases would take the lives of more migrant workers, Bello said he is confident the government, with the help of policy makers, would supply the logistics needed for an extended massive repatriation of their remains.

“With the way President Duterte expressed his love and support for Filipino migrant workers during his State of the Nation address, I’m pretty sure we’ll have what it takes to bring them all home,” Bello said.

During his SONA, Duterte committed all government assistance for OFWs especially those adversely affected by the global outbreak.

Of the newly-arrived remains, 20 were from Al Khobar, 18 of which were Covid cases while 2 were non-Covid.

On the other hand, 10 remains were from Jeddah which all are Covid cases while 24 were from Riyadh of which 11 are Covid cases and 13 are not.

In total, there are 39 Covid cases and 15 non-Covid among the remains that were flown home yesterday, Bello said.

As usual, the bodies of Covid cases will be immediately cremated while the non-Covid will be flown to their respective places of origin at government expense, Bello said.