Gov’t to repatriate 5,000 OFWs illegally staying in Saudi Arabia
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will repatriate around 5,000 overseas Filipino workers as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia implements a 90-day amnesty for illegal migrants.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said: “This is our top priority. We will do our best to process their travel documents as soon as possible.”
A team of labor officials, headed by Undersecretary Dominador Say, would go to Saudi Arabia this month to set up three processing centers in Riyadh, Al Khobar, and in Jeddah.
Say is the officer-in-charge of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
“We will need as many people as we can who are knowledgeable in processing these documents of the OFWs for immediate repatriation,” Say said. “We have to take advantage of the amnesty and bring them safely back home within the period given by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
The Philippine government will pay for the plane tickets of the OFWs.
The DOLE, POEA, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administratio,n and the Bureau of Local Employment will provide livelihood assistance for the repatriated OFWs.
“Those who prefer to stay are allowed to stay because some of them have already found a job,” Say said. “However, more OFWs want to go home. That’s the mission of the delegation – to take advantage of the amnesty, and bring home all stranded OFWs in Saudi.
The 90-day amnesty covers undocumented and overstaying foreign individuals of Umrah, Hajj and visit visa holders; OFWs with no or expired residence permits or iqamas; and those who escaped from or were abandoned by their employers.
The amnesty applications of the OFWs will be processed free of penalties. They will be exempt from the Certificate of No Objection from their employers and will be given exit permits.