MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday urged the government to take advantage of another two-month extension given by the Saudi government for foreign countries to correct the status of their undocumented nationals staying in Saudi Arabia.
Marcos made this call after the Saudi government gave illegal migrant workers until March 1, this year, to complete their working papers.
”We should comply with all the requirements for the remaining overseas Filipino workers within the given period because this might be the last chance for them,” Marcos said in a media statement.
Marcos said the Philippine government can only blame itself if after the deadline there are still Filipinos who will be arrested and incarcerated because of incomplete documents.
“I hope, this time, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Foreign Affairs will be able to assist all of our OFWs who still have incomplete documents,” the senator said.
Marcos said the two-month grace period is enough “if only our officials would buckle down to work to legalize our workers’ stay in Saudi Arabia or have them immediately repatriated if necessary.”
Reports said the DFA estimated that about 1,600 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia are either awaiting repatriation or correction of their status.
“I am calling on the DFA and DOLE to know exactly the OFWs there that have problematic papers,” Marcos said.
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Muhammad bin Naif ordered the two-month grace period, or up to March 1, 2014, to give a fresh chance to illegal foreign workers to process their residency and work status.
The Saudi government launched on March 28 last year a crackdown on illegal migrant workers under “Saudization,” a policy aimed at giving employment opportunities to its own nationals.
King Abdullah ordered the first three-month reprieve on April 6 last year for illegal workers. It was extended from July 3 to Nov. 3, or the end of the Islamic year, by the Saudi Ministry of Labor.
Reports citing DOLE’s record said 196,633 OFWs in the Kingdom were able to correct their papers while 38,939 had voluntarily returned to the Philippines in 2013. (MNS)