PH to bring home 1,000 OFWs from Saudi

Paterno Esmaquel II
The number of Filipinos repatriated from Saudi will reach more than 8,000

CRACKDOWN IS ON. Illegal migrants wait with their belongings under police watch to be transferred by police buses on Nov 13, 2013 to a center in the capital Riyadh ahead of their deportation. File photo by Fayez Nureldine/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will repatriate 1,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Saudi Arabia after it negotiated with the Middle Eastern country’s immigration and deportation officials, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday, January 28.

Once these OFWs return to the Philippines, the number of Filipinos flown home from Saudi Arabia will reach more than 8,000.

The Philippines is repatriating thousands of nationals after Saudi Arabia launched a crackdown on undocumented foreign workers last November 3. Illegal workers face up to two years in prison and fines of at least 100,000 riyal or $27,000.

In a statement, the DFA said the consulate began on Sunday, January 26, to bring 100 Filipinos every day to the General Services Center (GSC) in Al-Shumaisy, located 60 kilometers from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“Consulate representatives proceed daily to the GSC to monitor and report on the progress of the exit visa processing and the final departure of the OFWs,” the DFA said.

The Philippines said it has repatriated 7,177 OFWs from Saudi Arabia.

Up to 9,000 Filipinos initially requested repatriation, but Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the “indecision” of OFWs delayed them from coming home.

The Saudi government’s sluggish process worsened the problem, he added. – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.