80 deceased Pinoys home from Middle East

THE remains of 80 Filipinos, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who had lived in the Middle East for many years until their passing were flown home by Philippine Airlines.

Cielo Villaluna, spokeperson of PAL, said PAL operated flour flights using Airbus 330. Flights PR8654 [18 July] Manila-Riyadh, PR8655 [Riyadh-Jeddah], PR8686 [Jeddah-Dammam, all on July 18 and PR8657 [Dammam-Manila], on July 19 [Sun] brought home the deceased Filipinos.

Of the 80 deaths, 50 were from COVID-19, while 30 were due to other causes.

The 50 human remains were brought for cremation to designated funeral parlors where loved ones were waiting, while the rest were loaded on planes of the Philippine Air Force for transport to various provinces where their families were waiting.

“Our sincerest condolences to the bereaved families at this most difficult time,” Villaluna said.

Authorities thanked the PAL Airport and Cargo teams in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Manila for their efforts. PAL, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Manila International Airport Authority  worked together to carry out the special mission.  [WILLY M. BALASA]

Back to provinces

The Department of Labor and Employment yesterday reported that about 95,702 overseas Filipino workers repatriated by the government due to the coronavirus pandemic have been transported back to their homes. 

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said the latest batch of 1,691 home-bound OFWs, all of whom tested negative for COVID-19, were transported to their respective provinces on Saturday, according to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

In May, over 34,000 OFWs were sent home by the government to their respective regions, and more than 61,000 thereafter followed on an almost daily basis in the succeeding months. 

Amid this surge of returning OFWs, Bello has given assurances that the government will exhaust all means to help OFWs regain jobs they lost abroad due to the pandemic.

A tracking system called OFW Assistance Information System (OASIS) has been developed by the labor department for its Command Center to facilitate orderly and smooth repatriation and assistance to returning OFW and outbound OFWs.  

Aside from transportation assistance, OWWA, in coordination with other government agencies, Philippine recruitment agencies, and licensed manning agencies, provides food, hygiene kits, and accommodation to returning OFWs. 

Meanwhile, the number of OFWs affected by the pandemic seeking assistance further soared to 572,442. 

Latest reports from DOLE’s overseas offices and OWWA also showed that 240,583 requests for assistance under the government’s AKAP program have been approved, with 203,585 OFWs already receiving the emergency aid.

AKAP is a one-time cash assistance of $200 or P10,000 for onsite or repatriated OFWs affected by the pandemic. The labor department has so far disbursed P2.095 billion of the P2-billion program fund as of July 19.

With Lee Ann P. Ducusin