Over 5,000 OFWs in Saudi repatriated as amnesty program ends

MANILA, Philippines – More than 5,000 stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been repatriated in the 90-day amnesty program of the Saudi Arabian government. 

Department of Labor and Employment Undersecretary Dominado Say said 5,299 Filipino workers have been sent home while 2,241 other OFWs are due to come back to the Philippines soon. 

“They are just waiting for their plane tickets. But all their documents are ready – exit visa and travel documents. They can leave anytime because they have exit visas already,” the acting administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA) said in a mix of English and Filipino.  

The repatriation of the OFW is part of the Saudi government’s amnesty program for foreigners called “A Nation without Violators”. The program ends Thursday, June 29. 

Among the assistance the OFWs received from DOLE is through its Welfare, Employment,Legal and Livelihood (WELL) Program that provides local and overseas employment referral, livelihood assistance, legal and conciliation services, among others. (READ: Duterte brings home 138 stranded OFWs from Saudi

Returning migrant workers also received P5,000 cash assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. Another P5,000 from the Department of Social Welfare and Development was also given to women OFWs with kids to help them buy basic needs. 

But as the program closes, there are still OFWs in Saudi who need help. (READ: Saudi OFWs raise problems before 'Tatay' Duterte)

According to Say, these are those who applied for the amnesty but were rejected because of pending absconding cases. 

“For example, you are a household worker, and was harassed. What many employers do is file an absconding case befor ethe police. If you have an absconding case, you are not qualified for amnesty,” he explained. 

“These are OFWs willing and wanting to return home. They attempted to apply but they were not qualified.” 

What the DOLE is eyeing now is to ask the Saudi government to grant these OFWs pardon. 

Secretary Silvestre Bello III was supposed to meet with his counterpart to ask for this but the dinner meeting has not been set due to the month-long celebration of Ramadan and Bello’s schedule. But Say gave assurances this option will be pursued. – Rappler.com 

 

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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