Saudi King gives 6-month amnesty grace to illegal aliens in the kingdom

September 23, 2010 10:26 am 

MANILA, Sept. 22 — Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz on Wednesday reported that His Royal Highness King Abdullah bin Abdulazziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced a six-month amnesty to foreigners illegally staying in the Kingdom, paving the way for these ‘illegals’ to go home to their home countries without any punishment.

Citing a report by Philippine Labor Attache David Des Dicang who is based in Al Khobar, Baldoz said the pardon would cover all foreigners who arrived in Saudi Arabia on Haj, Umrah, visit visa, or any other type of visa which had expired, or those who have violated passport regulations.

“This is, indeed, very good news for Filipino “illegals” in Saudi Arabia,” Baldoz said upon receiving Dicang’s report.

News reports in Saudi newspapers quoted the Saudi Interior Ministry to have said that it has advised “illegal stayers” to leave the Kingdom from September 25 to March 23, 2011 by reporting to the nearest office of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and completing the necessary procedures for their departure.

Dicang said violators caught after this grace period will receive severe punishment, including jail time and heavy fines. “The punishment will extend to those who transport or shelter or employ overstayers,” he said.

“We are grateful for this act of charity by the Saudi King,” Baldoz remarked.

The Philippine government has been grappling with the problem of bringing home stranded Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, particularly in Jeddah, since President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III has assumed office and issued the directive to the DOLE to expand its protection to all distressed Filipinos, a part of the 22-point labor and employment agenda of the new administration.

Since July, the Department and Foreign Affairs and the DOLE, through its labor attaches and the welfare officers of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, have been working double time to repatriate Filipinos not only in Saudi Arabia, but also in neighboring countries.

From July 10 to September 1 this year, the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in Jeddah, KSA; Kuwait; and Bahrain have repatriated 773 Filipinos, including children of OFWs. Majority of these Filipinos, or 703, were repatriated from Jeddah. The Philippines had spent P15 million in repatriating these Filipinos.

“We enjoin overstaying Filipinos in Saudi Arabia to take advantage and avail of the amnesty so they can go home to the Philippines,” Baldoz said, even as she directed all labor attaches and welfare officers in the Kingdom to lend a helping hand to facilitate the departure of those who will avail of the pardon.

She also directed them to address the root cause of why Filipinos overstay. “Do the best you can to implement strictly our reform program, particularly on the recruitment and deployment of household service workers,” Baldoz said. (PNA) V3/PR/rsm

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