THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said the government would continue to assist in repatriating Filipinos who have been working illegally in Saudi Arabia even after the lapse of a 90-day amnesty offer by the kingdom.
Raul Dado, executive director of the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, said the DFA is processing the repatriation of at least 6,000 Filipinos who availed of the amnesty last March.
Dado added that the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia does not have records of Filipinos working illegally in the kingdom because most of them do no bother to register with the embassy.
He said the embassy has been encouraging Filipinos to at least show up at the embassy so that they could avail of assistance being provided by the Philippine government.
“The DFA will try to get all those who have registered repatriated even beyond June 30. But those who have not applied, we cannot because they have not registered with us,” Dado added.
But the Philippine government, her said, would still assist them based on standard operation on repatriating Filipinos individually, and based on certain criteria, but they would not be included in the mass repatriation.
Since the kingdom announced the 90-day amnesty for all illegal workers in the country, 12,000 Filipinos have availed of the program and 5,122 have already been brought home.
Some of the Filipinos, however, were not issued exit visas because of pending cases mostly involving unsettled debts.
“Although we want them to be repatriated as soon as possible, there are local laws and procedures that we need to follow,” Dado said.
He added that based on a report of the DFA post in Saudi Arabia, the registration for those who want to avail of the amnesty was stopped because the host government has not announced any extension of the amnesty.
“However, the Philippine government has endorsed many of those who have already registered to immigration for the processing of exit visas,” he said.