More undocumented Pinoys coming home amid Saudi amnesty
JEDDAH — Another batch this time composed of 35 undocumented Filipinos in Jeddah went home after receiving their government-sponsored tickets.
The group left Jeddah on board a Philippine Airlines flight to Manila on Wednesday afternoon and is expected to arrive in Manila on Thursday afternoon.
While waiting for the bus that will bring them to the airport, Filipino worker Cherilyn Reyes could not hide her excitement of going home after three years of being an overstaying foreigner in the Kingdom.
Cherilyn said she has no plans of returning to Saudi Arabia even if there is a chance.
"I will just stay home for now and I will just try to find a job in Manila," she said
The group thanked the Philippine Consulate and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for helping them in applying for the exit visa and sponsoring their tickets to Manila.
Consul Rj Sumague said more undocumented Filipinos will go home in the next few days as the Consulate is already arranging the flight schedules of those who already have air tickets.
"We already have confirmed flight schedules this week of those who already received their air tickets and we are expecting more confirmed flight schedule of our kababayan in the next few weeks," Sumague said.
Sumague also said half of the 600 undocumented Filipinos who already left for the Philippines had government-sponsored tickets.
Sumague said air- tickets were shouldered by different attached government agencies like OWWA, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, and the Department of Social Worker and Development (DSWD).
Sumague appealed to those who have not yet applied for the amnesty to do it while there is still time, noting that the 90-day amnesty program offered by the Saudi Arabian government to undocumented foreign workers will expire on the last day of June.
147 arrive home, get gov't aid
Meanwhile, 147 undocumented OFWs arrived from Saudi Arabia at Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Thursday morning.
OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac told GMA News Online in a phone interview that the OFWs received financial and other forms of assistance from the government upon their arrival.
"The OWWA Board of Trustees gave them cash assistance. They received P5,000 each and will be given livelihood assistance and job seeking assistance by the DOLE," Cacdac said.
DOLE's Assist WELL (Welfare, Employment, Legal and Livelihood) Program can provide them with livelihood assistance, referral to local and overseas employment, training, and legal assistance.
OWWA members will receive a non-cash livelihood package worth P10,000 with a starter kit under the Balik-Pinas! Balik-Hanapbuhay! Program while non-OWWA members will be provided with non-cash livelihood training and will be referred to the same program.
Returning Filipino workers will also undergo psycho-social counseling, stress debriefing, medical referral, temporary shelter, and transportation to their respective provinces. —Ronaldo Concha and Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News