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OFWs battle Saudi crackdown

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has advised OFWs in Saudi Arabia to remain in “shelter units” and Philippine Embassies so as not to be arrested by Saudi Arabian authorities. PHOTO CREDIT: REMATE.PH

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have started leaving Saudi Arabia to prevent the crackdown on illegal migrant workers due to the “Saudization policy while repatriated Filipinos described it as brutal.

Over 12,000 Filipinos have been told by the Department of Foreign Affairs to stay in Philippine Embassies and “shelters” built for the Filipinos to prevent being arrested by Saudi Arabian authorities.

On Sunday, at least 30 Filipinos arrived and each and every one of them had something to share with what they experienced as “horrific” during the crackdown.

Despite continuous pleading from the Philippine government, Saudi Arabia has turned down the request of the Philippines for an extension for Filipinos to fix their documents.

“The estimate is that there are still 12,729 undocumented Filipino workers awaiting repatriation and they will be repatriated as soon as they are able to get their exit clearance,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said yesterday.

Saudi authorities, however, said that if a migrant manifest its willingness to leave Saudi Arabia, then they will not be arrested.

“The understanding is that as long as the document of the illegal migrant is already being processed for repatriation, they won’t be arrested,” Baldoz said.

In connection with the brutality of Saudi authorities, Saudi Arabian Embassy officials in Manila did not want to comment.

Now that the grace period has expired, there are only 4,330 Filipino migrants have been repatriated.

“It now appears that the Saudi Interior Ministry has already announced the end of the grace period. And since we have not received a positive response then the grace period has ended,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said.

“We were informed by our embassy in Riyadh that Saudi Arabia announced officially the end of the grace period for undocumented foreigners last Nov. 3,” he added.

Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay is not taking a time of and is continuing to appeal an extension for the Filipino workers there.

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