Angara urges DFA to augment Saudi embassy staff to assist stranded OFWs

April 29, 2013 11:42 pm 

LUCBAN, Quezon, April 29 — Team Pnoy senatorial candidate Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Monday urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to deploy additional staff to the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to facilitate the documentation and swift repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who have indicated their intention to come home.

Angara said the number of stranded Filipinos encamped beside the Philippine Consulate building in Jeddah has surged to more than 3,000 based on reports from Saudi Arabia.

The DFA sent Jesus Yabes of the Office of Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs and Assistant Secretary for the Office of Middle East and African Affairs Petronila Garcia to Saudi Arabia last week to help address the problems of OFWs.

“The OFWs should be repatriated immediately before the expiration of the three month reprieve granted by the Saudi government to undocumented foreign nationals including Filipinos,” Angara, who attended Team PNoy campaigner here, said.

Last week, the embassy provided air-conditioned temporary shelter for the stranded OFWs congesting in the tent city beside the consulate but only less than 20 women with their children opted to transfer there.

Diplomatic officials have also appealed to stranded OFWs for understanding and cooperation with embassy personnel so they can facilitate their repatriation which will take time due to the exit clearance requirement.

“I understand that before the OFWs can be repatriated, they should first secure an exit permit from the Saudi government while those considered overstaying will have to pay fines before they are allowed to leave the Kingdom,” Angara said.

Embassy personnel are faced with the challenge of securing a “no objection certificate” from the employers of Filipino workers who ran away from their sponsors. The certificate is necessary to be able to secure an exit permit.

Aside from the OFWs who have desired to be repatriated, the embassy is also assisting thousand others with expired iqama (residence permit) .

Earlier, the DFA requested the Saudi Foreign Ministry to waive the iqama fees for OFWs to legalize their stay in Saudi Arabia. (PNA)

FPV/JFM

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