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PHL deploys senior officials to Saudi ahead of amnesty deadline

October 29, 2013 7:08pm
The Philippine government on Tuesday sent senior officials to Saudi Arabia to help deal with the crucial repatriation of thousands of illegal Filipinos there as the amnesty period is set to expire on Nov. 3.

Foreign Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Jesus Yabes and Social Welfare Undersecretary Parisya Taradji were dispatched to Saudi to “meet with Saudi Social Welfare and Immigration officials to explore possible solutions to this issue and to check on the condition of undocumented Filipinos both in Riyadh and Jeddah.”

After the grace period, normal immigration and labor laws and regulation will be again be enforced.

“This would include detention for those violators,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said at a press briefing Tuesday.

Requirements like the mandatory no objection certificate, payment of fines and other sanctions will also be imposed, he added.

Saudi imposed a crackdown on illegal workers last March which led to thousands of arrests and deportations, because of the “Saudization” policy that encourages the employment of Saudi nationals and documented workers in private firms.

Saudi King Abdullah first ordered a three-month delay to the arrests of illegal migrant workers last April 6.  The grace period was again extended for another four months by the Saudi King following appeals from the Philippines and other countries with undocumented workers in Saudi Arabia - home to more than 1 million Filipinos.

The previous crackdown forced hundreds of illegal Filipino workers to set up camps outside the premises of the country’s consulate in Jeddah and the embassy in Riyadh, hoping their presence near a diplomatic mission would give them protection and prevent their arrest.

As of Oct. 28, 4,302 undocumented Filipinos have been repatriated from Saudi Arabia — 2,388 from Riyadh and the Eastern Region, and 1,914 from Jeddah.

“Our embassy and consulate general are extending all appropriate assistance to undocumented Filipinos in the Kingdom and we will continue to do so even beyond the November 3 deadline,” Hernandez said.

A temporary shelter for undocumented mothers and children and camp dwellers have, meanwhile, been opened in Jeddah last Oct. 22 by the Philippine consulate. It has a maximum capacity of 400 persons.

A total of 109 individuals have been transferred to the facility, which is located nine kilometers away from the Philippine consulate.  — KBK, GMA News



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