Friday, March 7, 2008

Repatriation for OFWs through legal way

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that overseas Filipino workers stranded in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia should undergo through the legal process of their repatriation to the Philippines.

The DFA also said that they will not accept the request of OFWs to the Philippine Consulate to use fictitious documents just for their fast repatriation.

DFA Undersecretary for Special Concerns Rafael Seguis said that they (OFWs) should go the Consulate for legal processing of their repatriation and that the DFA will not support the short way of processing.

Stranded OFWs had set up a camp outside the Philippine Consulate for their immediate deportation in the Philippines. Reports said that there are 74 stranded OFWs in Saudi and among them, only 18 OFWs agreed to undergo the legal process of deportation.

Some OFWs according to Seguis are stiff to their request that the Consulate should issue them fictitious documents but the Consulate don’t agree and said that it can’t be done.

The Philippine Consulate also reported that there are fixers who acts as agents of the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah and they claim that they can help the run-away OFWs be repatriated. These agents are collecting fees ranging from SR500 to SR2,500 which is about P1,000 to P5,000 in exchange for the immediate repatriation of overstaying and run-away OFWs.

According to the Vice President and Presidential Adviser on OFWs Noli de Castro, the fixers are also spreading rumors that the Saudi Arabian government is offering amnesty because of the Hajj season.

“According to the Consulate, there is no way they are connected to any of these individuals or fixers because all transactions are conducted inside its premises by its personnel who have Consulate IDs and have resident permits issued by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” de Castro added.

De Castro also said that the Philippine Consulate offers assistance to the repatriation of OFWs in accordance with the existing Saudi legal procedures for the issuance of exit visa of sponsored expatriates and that the Consulate can resolve their cases through the regular channels.

OFWs who are willing to undergo through the legal process shall present themselves, with representation of the Consulate, to Saudi authorities for investigation and processing.

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