The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday made a last minute call to undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to immediately avail of the amnesty given by the Saudi government and leave the country by June 29.

Undersecretary Dominador Say stressed the need for stranded and undocumented migrant workers to have their travel documents processed before Saudi authorities start crackdown on undocumented foreign nationals by month's end.

I have been informed that there are still some OFWs in Saudi Arabia who have not yet registered and some have ignored the announcement of the Philippine Embassy to avail of the amnesty. The processing will take few days before they can leave and all of this should be done before June 29, Say said.

Say added that the Philippine Embassy in Saudi can only process documents of those who are willing and eager to be brought back home and they have no power over those who refuse to avail of the amnesty.

Citing an example, Say said that he spoke with one of the stranded OFWs when he was in Saudi Arabia last April. He tried to persuade the OFW to avail of the amnesty. However, the migrant worker insisted not to register yet, saying she can still work for a month and save some money before flying back home.

Say also said that despite being issued with exit visa, OFWs who have not yet left the Saudi territory after the given amnesty period will still be arrested by the Saudi authorities.

Last April, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, has sent a Rapid Response Team to ensure that stranded and undocumented OFWs in KSA will be repatriated to the Philippines by availing of the amnesty program of the Saudi government dubbed A nation without violators.

In March, Saudi granted a 90-day amnesty for undocumented and overstaying foreign individuals of Umrah, Hajj and visit visa holders; OFWs with expired iqamas (residence permits), or have never been issued an iqama; Huroob cases or those who escaped from their employers; and OFWs who were abandoned by their employers, including their dependents.

Say clarified that those foreign nationals who have pending cases in the Arab country are not covered by the amnesty.

Since the implementation of the 90-day amnesty period, more than 5,200 stranded and undocumented OFWs have been repatriated by the government.

Source: DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT REPUBLIC OF PHILIPPINES