THE Department of Labor and Employment will repatriate not less than 5000 overseas Filipino workers currently stranded in various cities in Saudi Arabia.
Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said the DoLE is taking advantage of the 90-day amnesty given by the Saudi government to undocumented aliens in their country.
“Lumipad patungo ng Saudi ang isang grupo na binubuo ng mga senior officials ng DoLE ngayong Abril na magdadala pauwi sa hindi bababa sa 5,000 undocumented at stranded na mga OFW. 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.
Following the amnesty, Bello instructed Undersecretary Dominador Say, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, to lead the repatriation mission and bring the OFWs back to the Philippines safely.
For his part, Say said once they arrive in Saudi, they will take charge of the repatriation delegation.
The undersecretary added that they also intend to hire additional manpower to work on the processing of documents for the stranded OFWs to facilitate their repatriation. They will open three processing centers, in Riyadh, Al Khobar, and Jeddah.
“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. Nandito kami upang samantalahin ang amnestiya at maiuwi sila nang ligtas pabalik ng bansa sa panahon na ibinigay ng Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he explained.
The 90-day amnesty covers undocumented and overstaying foreigners in Umrah, Hajj, and foreigners holding visit visa; OFWs with expired iqamas (residence permit); or those who have not yet been issued an iqama; cases of Huroob or workers who escaped from their employers; and OFWs abandoned by their employer, including their dependents.
Applications for OFWs with cases will be processed without penalty, they will also be issued exit permits and exemption from securing certificates of no objection from their employers.
They will also be excluded from the “deportee fingerprint system” and will be allowed to return legally to the Kingdom.