100,000 OFWs in Saudi face jail, deportation?
P2 billion reintegration fund ready for OFWs - Palace
Binay asks Saudi king for extension of grace period
MANILA (UPDATED) -- The government is ready to assist Filipinos who have yet to come home from Saudi Arabia as a result of an immigration law.
An analyst, however, fears more than 100,000 overseas Filipino workers could be arrested if they are found to be working with employers other than their original visa sponsors.
Lito Soriano, a migration and recruitment consultant, said the Saudi government is bent on weeding out undocumented OFWs and other expatriates because of the so-called “Saudization.”
Citing a Commission on Overseas Filipinos data, Soriano said there are around 108,000 irregular or undocumented Filipinos in Saudi Arabia as of December 2012.
The Saudi king has yet to respond to a letter of Vice President Jejomar Binay seeking another extension of the four-month grace period given in July. The amnesty period, which allows foreign nationals to correct their statuses or return to their home countries, lapses on November 3.
"I also sent a letter of appeal to the king...So, there's still about 1,500 Filipinos whose papers have not yet been acted upon. But, we'll have to understand that it's not only the Filipinos who are affected by this requirement. We have the Indians, the Afghans , Pakistanis, Bangladeshi, Philippines, and Myanmar I think. So, hopefully, iyong sa registration for repatriation can be given another extension," Binay said.
Soriano said, however, the Ministry of Labor there has already ruled out an extension. Countrywide raids are expected on November 4, he said.
“The inspection of commercial premises will begin on Monday as planned. Various arms of the ministry are ready for the inspections. The government agencies, however, will not arrest those holding relevant documents and waiting to legalize their status or be repatriated,” he said.
In an interview on radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. assured the OFWs and their families that the government is already doing what it can to help in repatriation proceedings.
He said a total of 9,000 have been given travel documents, while some 1,500 are still waiting for their clearances from the immigration office.
According to Coloma, around 4,371 OFWs have already returned home ever since the new immigration law has been implemented.
“We will be giving them all the legal, financial and other necessary assistance,” Coloma said, adding that a P2-billion reintegration fund under the Department of Labor and Employment is readily available for the Filipinos.
Otherwise, the effect of the Saudization will be minimal since some of the Filipinos have already found other jobs, he said.