Undocumented OFWs hope amnesty applies to them

RIYADH: Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.

Published — Sunday 3 March 2013

Last update 3 March 2013 2:21 am

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Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom’s capital who have run away from their employers have lauded the “amnesty given to expats without legal documents.”
Under the amnesty, expats without legal documents who have been stuck in the Kingdom for years have a golden chance to end their ordeal.
Labor Minister Adel Fakeih said that undocumented foreign workers can leave Saudi Arabia on exit-only visas without being penalized in connection with a plan to clean up the Saudi labor market.
However, the Philippine Embassy issued a statement, saying that it was seeking confirmation of the amnesty and it had not yet received any official announcement from the Labor Ministry.
The embassy issued the statement due to reports and inquiries from concerned OFWs. One of them has a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree and was hired in the Philippines to work as a sales manager in a company dealing in car accessories at a salary of SR3,750. His residence certificate expired a year ago.
He said that he left his employer because of mismanagement at the firm.
His case was decided by the Governor’s Office in his favor but his former employer has appealed the decision. The worker is still awaiting the result of the appeal.
“I am helpless as I remember the needs of my family back home. I have four kids,” he told Arab News.
He said that he went to the Riyadh POLO but was told that the amnesty does not cover his case. “I was told that I am not covered by the amnesty because my case is now being decided by the Governor’s Office,” he said.
Other runaway OFWs are working in the black market after escaping from their employers. Although they make more money, they also want to go home under the amnesty. “I now have a family here with kids but they could not go to school because they have no residence permits and passports,” one female OFW said.
Another female OFW said, “I terribly miss my family. My kids are growing up without my guidance. I am working here for them but alienation seems to have set in. I no longer feel the warmth in their voices when I call them,” she said.
She added that she could not send them money through the banks because she does not have a residence certificate.
“I send money through friends or mere acquaintances whom I request to call my kids when they arrive in the Philippines so that they can get the money,” she said.

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