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Homecoming for doomed OFWs

Duterte vows to bring home Pinoys granted clemency by Saudi Arabia

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by Yas Ocampo and Genalyn Kabiling

Davao City – President Duterte is embarking on a mission to bring home overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) granted clemency or cleared by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) under its amnesty program during his visit to the Middle East.

Before departing for his weeklong journey to the three Gulf states, the President announced that the government would start to facilitate the repatriation of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia.

“Yes, they’ve been given the clearance. I will fly them home. Pagdating ko dito, dala ko na ‘yung iba (Some of them will be with me in my return trip),” the President said in a press conference at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City, when asked if the fate of Filipinos on death row will be tackled during his visits to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar.

A FATHER’S GAZE – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte casts an affectionate look at his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio at the Davao International Airport moments before he left for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Monday. It was the first time that the Duterte’s eldest child attended a send-off ceremony for her father. (Keith Bacongco | Manila Bulletin)

A FATHER’S GAZE – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte casts an affectionate look at his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio at the Davao International Airport moments before he left for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Monday. It was the first time that the Duterte’s eldest child attended a send-off ceremony for her father. (Keith Bacongco | Manila Bulletin)

“Doon sa (At) Jeddah. Those who are given the permission or clemency to whatever it was, may clearance na about 5,000 of them, we’ll start bringing them back. The first batch, pagdating ko, pagbalik,” he added.

“I will bring them home,” Duterte said.

ENHANCED BILATERAL TIES

Apart from this, Duterte will “forge deeper, more meaningful, and more positive engagements with the Middle East.”

“There is much at stake in the Philippines’ relations with the Middle East: It is the global center of traditional energy resources; it is a source of investments with potential for much growth; it is an expanding market for key Philippine products and services; and, it is home to the largest group of Filipinos working overseas,” Duterte said.

Duterte said he will meet with Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Tuesday to revitalize the bilateral relations. “It is and will be an important and valuable opportunity to reaffirm a lasting friendship and seek ways [of] further broadening cooperation, particularly in politico-security and defense, trade and investments, anti-narcotics, labor, energy, education and culture,” he said.

He said the two countries will also discuss shared constituents who attend the annual visits to Makkah and Madina.

BAHRAIN, QATAR VISITS

From Riyadh, Duterte will travel to Kingdom of Bahrain where he will hold talks with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in Manama. Duterte plans to “expand the frontiers of friendship and tap into the converging interests in order to intensify two-way trade and investments, seek greater politico-security cooperation and exchange to increase trade and commerce.”

Duterte’s third and final stopover is Doha, Qatar where he will meet with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. “There is always much to explore to make the bilateral relations even more vibrant as they are.  We will seek greater politico-security cooperation, collaboration in the field of health and culture. It is on top of this agenda of spurring two-way trade and investments,” he said.

Duterte said he will also seek the support of the leaders of the Gulf states to support the government’s efforts to bring just and lasting peace in Mindanao.

AMNESTY OFFER

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) advised OFWs in Saudi Arabia to avail themselves of the amnesty offered by the kingdom under the “Nation Without Violations” program for undocumented migrant workers this month.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said the DOLE has already sent a team to the KSA to assess the condition of the undocumented workers to ensure smooth processing of documents of the workers.

The 90-day Amnesty of Grace Period offered by the Saudi government is a welcome development to OFWs covered by the “exemption to penalties,” the DOLE said.

The amnesty program, which started last March 29, allows the undocumented workers to return to their countries of origin without payment of penalties or exit fees.  Bello had earlier said around 5,000 undocumented Filipino workers are expected to benefit from the amnesty program. The amnesty coincides with President Duterte’s trip to the Middle East.

The Philippine government, through the Philippine embassy in the KSA, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in KSA, the DOLE, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), are ready to assist undocumented OFWs who will avail themselves of the amnesty.

WHO ARE COVERED?

The amnesty covers residents whose iqama (residence permit for expats) expired on or before 19 March 2017; workers with work permit but no iqama ID card; runaway workers reported as such on or before 19 March 2017; Umrah and Haj overstayer (pilgrimage), pilgrims without Haj permit; and “infiltrators’ crossing Saudi borders.

“The Philippine embassy encourages the OFWs and their families here to advise their OFW relatives to take the opportunity and register themselves and get home with the help of the Philippine government,” the DOLE said.

The OWWA assured there would be assistance waiting for the OFWs once they get home.

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  • Near N

    bobo tlga presidente.. gagastusan nya pa yan.. pera ng taumbayan gagamitin.. eh yang mga hampas lupang OFW na yan.. sobrang ambisyoso ng mga yan.. wlang kayang gawin yan kundi magyabang at mainggit.. kaya nga cla nanjan.. d bale ng alipustain ng arabyano.. makapagyabang lng pag uwe ng bansa.. dami trabaho dito.. pwede ka magsaka. pwede ka mag negosyo ng hnd na kelangan perwisyuhin ang perang taumbayan maiuwe ka lng dahil sa kayabangan mo.. pwe! leche!

    • lizaad724

      hahaha ang damot !!! sa akin ay ok na gastusan sila pauwi kesa mapunta ang taxpayers’ money sa bulsa ng mga magnanakaw na mayayaman na nakaupo sa gobyerno.
      yung mga nakaltas sa akin na tax monthly mula ke estrada hanggang ke benigno aquino napunta lang sa mga bisyo at pagpapasarap sa pagbabakasyon sa ibang bansa ng mga kurakot na opisyal ng gobyerno. at least sa panahon ni duterte, dito nagastos ang tax na kinakaltas sa sweldo ko.

    • Tonyang

      Ye’y uuwi na ako mga kabayan! Susunduin na kami ni Tatay Digong!…Du30! Du30!!!

    • pablo sanchez

      kupal ka kung wala kang malasakit sa mga kababayan mong ofw. di naman sila lalayo sa pamilya nila kung binigyan ng maayos na programa ang mga nakaraang administrasyon. sabagay walang taong bobo meron lang tanga at isa ka na dun Near N.

    • Hopefull11

      Bugok ka sobra! Mag isip ka naman bago mag blog!

    • Carlos Reyes

      bobo ka! kasi di mo alam na sa bawat uwi ng mga ofw me binabayaran sa OWWA alam mo yun bobo! yun yung perang na naiipon ng gobyerno na dapat gamitin nila oras na ng pangangailangan ng mga ofw at sa milyung ofw di lahat nagagamit yun at dahil din sa mga ofw nakakatangap ng bilyung dolyar ang gobyerno yan ang ipasok mo sa utak mong walang kwenta!

    • Len Lucero

      Ang sakit mo naman magsalita..akala mo kung sino ka na milyo milyones ang ibinabayad mo na buwis..ngayon lang tayo nagkaroon ng isang Pangulo na meron malasakit sa mga OFW na di pinalad sa pagtrabaho sa Saudi. yong sinasabi mo na mayabang at naiingit e oo meron nyan pero huwag mo naman lahatin dahil ang mas nakakarami ay payak lang na gustong kumita at makaipon para sa pamilya na sya ang dahilan sa una kung bakit sila nag abroad..Kundi ka man lang matuwa na makakauwi na sila e mas mainam pa siguro na huwag ka na lang magkomento.

    • Helix

      Pera ng OFW yong ginagamit ni Pres. Duterte dahil sa contribution nila sa OWWA. Dapat lang ibalik yan sa mga OFW sa paraan sa pagtulong sa kanila hindi sa pagwawaldas ng mga kawani ng gobyerno kagaya ng dati adminstrasyon.