PH appeals to Saudi king for second extension for illegal foreign workers

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VICE President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday appealed to King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia to give foreign workers another extension to correct their working status in the kingdom.

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Binay, in a letter, thanked the King for the first extension but added that “thousands of Filipinos are still hoping to correct their employment status.”

“As I acknowledge that thousands of Filipinos have already benefited from this humanitarian Royal Decree, I respectfully appeal for an extension of the 3 November 2013 deadline for foreign workers to correct their employment status in the Kingdom,” he added.

Binay, who is also the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Concerns, said the Philippine government “is exerting its utmost to assist undocumented Filipino workers legalize their status.”

“However, due to the large number of Filipino workers seeking correction of their employment status, many of them may not be able to meet the 3 November deadline,” he said.

According to data from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), 4,111 Filipinos have been repatriated by the Philippine government as a result of the Saudi policy, while 1,716 are still waiting to go home.

The crackdown against illegal workers started on March 28 because of the “Saudization” policy or nitaqat, which encourages the employment of Saudi nationals in private firms.

King Abdullah originally ordered a three-month reprieve to give a chance for illegal migrant workers to correct their immigration or labor status in the Kingdom.

The initial deferment of the deadline from July 3 to November 3, the end of the Islamic year, was in response to requests made by Saudi companies and employers, who reportedly cited the backlog in the processing of documents in certain offices.

“On behalf of the Government and people of the Philippines, I am honored to convey our sincerest gratitude for Your Majesty’s Royal Decree allowing illegal expatriates to correct their employment status in the Kingdom and providing facilities and exemptions for those who wish to leave by the end of Hejira year or 3 November 2013,” Binay said.

 RITCHIE A. HORARIO

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