PH asks Saudi to extend amnesty deadline for illegal workers
MANILA - The Philippine government made an appeal to Saudi Arabia to extend the deadline on the amnesty for illegal foreign workers in the kingdom.
"As I acknowledge that thousands of Filipinos have already benefited from this humanitarian Royal Decree, I respectfully appeal for an extension of the 3 November 2013 deadline for foreign workers to correct their employment status in the Kingdom," Vice President Jejomar Binay stated in his letter to King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Binay likewise thanked the King for the amnesty which allowed ample time to foreign workers illegally staying in Saudi Arabia to correct their status.
"On behalf of the Government and people of the Philippines, I am honored to convey our sincerest gratitude for Your Majesty's Royal Decree allowing illegal expatriates to correct their employment status in the Kingdom and providing facilities and exemptions for those who wish to leave by the end of Hejira year or 3 November 2013," Binay said.
Binay, who is also the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Concerns, said the Philippine government "is exerting its utmost to assist undocumented Filipino workers legalize their status."
"However, due to the large number of Filipino workers seeking correction of their employment status, many of them may not be able to meet the 3 November deadline," he said.
As of October 28, the Department of Foreign Affairs said a total of 4,302 Filipinos have been repatriated from Saudi Arabia. Of the total, 2,388 were from Riyadh and eastern region, while 1,914 were from Jeddah.
Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez revealed that a team, led by DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Jesus Yabez and Undersecretary Parisya Taraji of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, will go to Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi officials and explore possible solutions to the issue.
They will also check on the conditions of undocumented workers in Riyadh and Jeddah.
Hernandez said there are still over 1,500 undocumented workers waiting for their immigration clearances.
After the grace period, Hernandez said normal immigration and labor laws or regulations will again come into effect.
The crackdown against illegal workers started on March 28 because of the “Saudization” policy or nitaqat, which encourages the employment of Saudi nationals in private firms.
King Abdullah originally ordered a three-month reprieve to give a chance for illegal migrant workers to correct their immigration or labor status in the Kingdom.
The initial deferment of the deadline from July 3 to November 3, the end of the Islamic year, was in response to requests made by Saudi companies and employers, who reportedly cited the backlog in the processing of documents in certain offices.