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Pinoy Abroad

RP embassy steps up drive on UAE amnesty for illegal Pinoys

July 25, 2007 4:00pm
The Philippine embassy in Abu Dhabi entertains inquiries from 60 to 80 Filipinos illegally staying in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) each day on legalizing their status or being repatriated to Manila.

So far, the embassy has received 834 applications for an amnesty the UAE government offered to run for three months since June.

The Abu Dhabi Naturalization and Residency Department had issued 115 passports and 150 travel documents to Filipino amnesty-seekers, according to a report in Khaleej Times.

In Dubai, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office has recorded 650 inquiries as of July 15.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed 82, 039 Filipino workers deployed to the UAE as of end-December 2005.

UAE is has the third biggest number of Filipino workers, next to Saudi Arabia with 194, 350 and Hong Kong with 94, 568 OFWs.

During the 90-day amnesty period, illegally staying foreigners in the emirates have the option to legalize their status by paying immigration dues or apply for voluntary deportation without having to be jailed and pay fines for overstaying.

With just a month to go, the Philippine consulate general in Dubai has waived the Dh120 application fee for travel documents so that more illegally-staying Filipinos could participate in the amnesty program.

Philippine diplomatic officers have also intensified an information campaign by tapping the Filipino community leaders, the media and even churches to spread the word about the amnesty offer.

"We are aware that most of the amnesty seekers barely have money to buy air tickets or pay for other fees so we have introduced this exemption as an additional service to them," said Consul Vivencio Bandillo.

Labor attaché Virginia Calvez said Filipino community leaders from Dubai and the Northern Emirates were asked to disseminate the procedures for applying for amnesty.

Given the limited personnel, the consulate and the POLO-OWWA had to seek help from members of the community, especially those based in the emirates of Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain.

"Aside from this, we have extended our welfare outreach by making announcements in churches, as well as on radio and television programs," Calvez said.

After the three-month amnesty period, the UAE government has warned of a crackdown on illegal aliens in the emirate.

Meantime, consular officers had asked the Dubai Naturalization and Residency Department to release into their custody the passports of Filipinos who have pending cases with Immigration.

"As of last week, more than 900 passports have been turned over to us by the DNRD. Out of this, more than 150 passports have been given to their respective owners," said Rafael Palencia, Jr., senior officer at the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) Section of the consulate.

Around 90 per cent of amnesty-seekers from the Philippines are household workers who have absconded from their employers. The remaining 10 per cent are visit visa holders who have overstayed in the UAE as well as undocumented children, Palencia said.

On Wednesday, GMA 7's Unang Hirit reported that 10 Filipinos arrived from Dubai without prospect of employment in the Philippines.

On Tuesday night, Reporter's Notebook featured Filipinos from Dubai who have been seeking temporary refuge in Iran's Kish Island while waiting for renewal of their visa in the UAE.

Some of the OFWs were sleeping in the park or illegally spending the day or night with friends in their hotel rooms because they have run out of money to pay for accommodation and food. - GMANews.TV
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