MANILA, June 14 (Mabuhay) — With a little over two weeks left before the reprieve for undocumented workers in Saudi Arabia ends on July 3, Vice President Jejomar Binay appealed to over 10,000 Filipinos there to submit their passports to the Philippine Embassy for the correction of their work status.
Binay, who is also presidential adviser on OFW concerns, said figures from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh as of June 8 indicated that these OFWs have yet to surrender their passports.
“Our OFWs need to submit their passports immediately so our embassy could update their work status or process their papers for repatriation,” he said in a post on his Facebook account.
The crackdown operations started on March 28 this year because of the “Saudization” policy (nitaqat) or the policy encouraging the employment of Saudi nationals in private firms.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on April 6 ordered a three-month delay to a crackdown on illegal migrant workers that has led to thousands of deportations.
The reprieve, which will end on July 4 this year, aims to give foreigners in the kingdom a chance to sort out their papers.
Binay also pointed out these OFWs had been given enough time to correct their status.
“They should grab this opportunity if they want to continue working there or come home to the Philippines,” he added.
Binay said OFWs who wish to continue working in the Kingdom must secure an updated passport and find an employer who can issue them their iqama or working permit.
Those who want to be repatriated need to go to the Saudi deportation and submit their passport and iqama.
On the other hand, OFWs who do not have passports may secure travel documents from the Philippine embassy or consulate for free.
Saudi is home to around 1.5 million Filipino workers, 20,000 of whom are said to be undocumented, Binay noted.
He noted that figures from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh show that it has retrieved and released 1,541 passports in Riyadh, 925 in Jeddah, and 119 in the Eastern region.
The embassy has helped buy the tickets of 113 repatriates, including 22 males, 22 females and five minors. It is now booking tickets for 332 OFWs. (MNS)