What is behind the deaths of more than 300 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia? This is the question raised by Archbishop Ruperto Santos, head of the commission for migrants and itinerants of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Philippines.
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On June 22, the Philippine Ambassador to Riyadh said that of the 353 nationals of his country who died recently, 107 died from Covid-19, 246 of “Natural causes” dont “Some crime-related deaths”. But the Philippine Catholic Church and the association “Migrante international” are not convinced. The deaths of hundreds of people over such a short period attract suspicion.
“There should be an investigation into the specific causes of death to prevent and avoid the loss of other lives”, underlined, in a statement, Mgr Ruperto Santos, bishop of Balanga, in the bay of Manila.
The association, which campaigns for the rights of migrants, alleges alleged discrimination in access to healthcare against Christians, reports UCA News. “Christians and Muslims must receive the medical care necessary for our workers to recover from the virus. Our nurses take care of Muslim patients. Can they also receive the type of medical care they deserve? ”, spokesman Francisco Buenaventura told the Asian news agency.
But Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto refutes the remarks. He believes the Saudi government “On word” and says: “There is no discrimination. What is happening is that the facilities are really full. ” In the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia is the country most affected by the coronavirus.
The 800,000 nationals who live and work there, often in precarious conditions, make the kingdom the state that welcomes the most Filipinos in the Middle East. The coronavirus crisis and containment have led to many layoffs among immigrant workers. Without resources, some Filipinos asked for help from their government to return to the archipelago.
Repatriation and celebrations
Earlier in the week, the Philippine government was criticized for giving permission to bury 50 nationals in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi kingdom demands that the victims carrying the Covid-19 be buried on the spot. The Philippine government finally chartered three planes to repatriate the remains before June 28.
The Bishop of Balanga called on Filipinos around the world to offer a series of celebrations from June 26-28 for the “Eternal rest” deceased workers. “We Filipinos have great respect for the dead. We honor the dead. They are sacred to us. It is right and appropriate to give them a dignified and correct burial ”, did he declare.