By Samuel Medenilla
The remaining thousands of illegal overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have until this month to be repatriated without facing any sanctions after the Arab country decided to extend its amnesty program for undocumented migrants.
In a phone interview, Labor undersecretary Dominador Say disclosed the Saudi government decided to extend its “Nation Without Violations” amnesty program by another 30 days.
“Confirmed by Riyadh assistant Labor attache Doming Salanga, KSA amnesty has been extended by 30 days,” Say said.
The 90-day Nation Without Violation program started last March 29, 2017 and was supposed to have ended last Thursday.
An online report from Arabnews.com showed the Saudi government decided to implement the amnesty extension starting on June 25, 2017 covering all nationalities.
Say urged the remaining illegal OFWs to avail of the amnesty program ahead of its new deadline.
“The Saudi government decided to voluntarily extend its program in consideration of the numerous migrants, who have not applied for it,” Say said.
“The remaining OFWs there should already apply for the amnesty program and not expect another extension,” he added.
The labor official said the extension is also good news for the remaining 6,000 OFWs, who already applied for amnesty but have yet to be repatriated since they are still undergoing processing.
“The extension would give them enough time to be repatriated,” Say said.
Since the Saudi amnesty program started, DOLE reported around 12,218 undocumented OFWs have applied for it, including some who have pending cases and are not qualified for it.
Out of these applicants, only 5,576 have been repatriated in the country.