UNDOCUMENTED migrant workers were given by Saudi Arabia an additional two months to correct their work status in the Kingdom, Vice President Jejomar Binay said on Thursday.
Binay, who is also the Presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Concerns said the extension would ease the anxieties of the remaining undocumented Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia and their families.
“The extension will allow the Philippine Embassy more time to process the documents to legalize the stay of the remaining Filipino workers or process the repatriation of those who wish to come home,” he added.
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz had said Saudi Interior Minister Prince Muhammad bid Naif ordered the completion of correction procedures for expatriates before March 1.
“I would like to thank His Excellency King Abdullah for once again showing his kindness and compassion in allowing the extension for all migrant workers,” he said.
Binay also reiterated his appeal to remaining undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia to submit all necessary documents to legalize their stay in the country.
“Once again, I appeal to our kababayans to use this additional time to submit all the needed requirements to the Philippine Embassy,” he said.
The crackdown against illegal workers started on March 28 last year because of the “Saudization” policy, which encourages the employment of Saudi nationals in private firms.
On April 6, King Abdullah ordered a three-month reprieve to give a chance for illegal migrant workers to correct their residency or labor status.
The Saudi Ministry of Labor then extended the deadline for foreign workers to correct their residency or work status in the Kingdom from July 3 to Nov. 3, or the end of the Islamic year.
According to DOLE, 196,633 Filipino workers in the Kingdom were able to rectify their work status while 38,939 left voluntarily.
However, Binay also said that the Saudi government assured the Philippine government that the repatriated OFWs will still be welcome to work in KSA except for those with derogatory records. RITCHIE A. HORARIO