5,000 OFWs expected home as Saudi implements amnesty
Some 5,000 undocumented OFWs are expected to come home as they take advantage of the 90-day amnesty offered by Saudi Arabia to all illegally staying foreigners there, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Wednesday.
Overstaying OFWs from Umrah and Hajj and those with visit visas, as well as OFWs with expired or unreleased iqamas, or who escaped or were abandoned by their employers stand to benefit from the amnesty.
OFWs with pending cases, meanwhile, will be processed without punishment, given exit permits, get exemption from getting a certificate of no objection from their employers, and removed from the "deportee fingerprint system," allowing them to return to Saudi Arabia.
The Philippine government will process their documents, clearances, and pay for their air fare home. Once they return, the DOLE, together with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administraiton and the Bureau of Local Employment, will help them look for work.
However, OFWs with traffic violations, cases with the police, and bank obligations are not covered by the amnesty, the DOLE said.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said DOLE will prioritize the repatriation of OFWs and work to have them home as soon as possible.
"Ito ang aming pangunahing priyoridad. Gagawin namin ang aming makakaya upang iproseso ang kanilang mga dokumento para makauwi sila sa lalong madaling panahon," he said.
Usec. Dominador Say said they will take full advantage of the amnesty despite the huge amount of resources it will take to process the amount of applicants they have.
"Kami ay mangangailangan ng maraming tao na hangga't maaari ay may maraming kaalaman sa pagpoproseso ng mga dokumento para sa agarang pagpapauwi ng mga OFW," he said.
"Nandito kami upang samantalahin ang amnestiya at maiuwi sila nang ligtas pabalik ng bansa sa panahon na ibinigay ng Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," Say added. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News