Tuesday, July 2, 2013
MANILA (Updated) — The Saudi Arabian government has extended to November 3 the grace period for undocumented residents to legalize their status, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.
The implementation of the Saudization law, which prioritizes the employment of Saudi nationals and allows a crackdown on illegal workers, was set on July 3.
Raul Hernandez, DFA spokesman, said in a press briefing that they received official word from the oil-rich kingdom regarding its decision to grant the extension of the deadline sought by the Philippines and several other nations.
Aside from the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan also have hundreds of illegally staying citizens in Saudi Arabia.
The kingdom is home to more than one million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), a majority of whom have already overstayed their visas. Those who transferred employments are also at the risk of violating the new immigration law passed by the Saudi Arabia government.
The Philippine government has repeatedly asked Saudi to extend the deadline since more than 300 Filipinos are still staying in the camp outside the Philippine mission in Jeddah.
Some 226 women and children are still seeking shelter in the consulate-provided facilities, Hernandez said.
The Philippines, since the Filipinos started camping outside the consulate in Jeddah and the embassy in Riyadh by mid-April, already repatriated some 800 distressed Filipino workers — 412 from Riyadh eastern region and 388 from Jeddah.
On Tuesday, about 25 Filipinos arrived in Manila from Riyadh, while 54 undocumented Filipinos also arrived during the weekend.
Vice President Jejomar Binay thanked Saudi’s King Abdullah “for once again showing his kindness and compassion in allowing the extension.”
Reports said the announcement of the extension was made by the Deputy Labor Minister of Saudi Arabia.
“We also join the appeal to the Saudi government to address the urgent concerns raised by Saudi companies and employers on the need to expedite the processing of documents of affected workers,” Binay said.
“The extension definitely eases the anxieties of thousands of kababayans and their families. Once again, I appeal to our kababayans to utilize this additional time given them to submit all the needed requirements to the Philippine Embassy,” he added.
The Vice President and the Foreign Affairs department said the Philippine missions in Saudi Arabia will continue to process the documents needed by the distressed Filipinos to correct their statuses or repatriate them back to the Philippines. (CVB/Sunnex)