The Philippine government urged the remaining undocumented overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia to immediately avail of the amnesty program for all illegal foreign workers given by the Saudi government which ends on June 29, 2017.
The Department of Labor and Employment said that more than 5,000 stranded and undocumented OFWs have been repatriated by the government since the implementation of the 90-day amnesty that started last March 29, 2017. However, Migrante international estimated that there are at least 12,000 Filipino undocumented workers in KSA, and only half of the estimated availed of the amnesty program. Under the amnesty program, illegal immigrants who availed of the KSA’s Interior Ministry’s “Nation without Violations” campaign would be cleared of any fines or penalties linked to violating the Saudi residency law, labor system and boarder security in the Kingdom.
Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say appealed to Filipino undocumented workers to have their travel documents processed before Saudi authorities start the crackdown by the end of July.
“I have been informed that there are still some OFWs in Saudi Arabia who have not yet registered and some have ignored the announcement of the Philippine Embassy to avail of the amnesty. The processing will take few days before they can leave and all of this should be done before June 29,” Say said.
He added that the Philippine Embassy in Saudi can only process documents of those who are willing and eager to be brought back home and they have no power over those who refuse to avail of the amnesty.
Citing an example, Say said that he spoke with one of the stranded OFWs when he was in Saudi Arabia last April. He tried to persuade the OFW to avail of the amnesty. However, the migrant worker insisted not to register yet, saying she can still work for a month and save some money before flying back home.
“The deadline for registration is due to end soon. We hope that OFWs can register as soon as possible because there are still factors to be considered, such as the processing period, acquiring of other documents, and booking a flight back to the Philippines,” Say said.
Say also said that despite being issued with exit visa, OFWs who have not yet left the Saudi territory after the given amnesty period will still be arrested by the Saudi authorities.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has sent a Rapid Response Team to help assist stranded OFWs in availing of the amnesty program. Foreign nationals who have pending cases in the Arab country are not covered by the amnesty.