Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Third batch of 77 Pinoys from Jeddah coming home
06/18/2007 03:20 PM

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A third batch of 77 Filipino workers with expired visa has left Jeddah Sunday night on two flights going back to the Philippines, leaving more than 500 others awaiting processing of their exit documents at a holding center there.

The Saudi Arabian government has extended amnesty to at least 750 overstaying Filipino workers in the kingdom by allowing them to either regularize their stay or voluntarily leave without having to be penalized by imprisonment and fine.Most of the workers went to Saudi on tourist or visit visa, or on pilgrimage but extended their stay to find work there. Some of them were victims of maltreatment by foreign employers who took advantage of their being illegal to abuse their rights to just compensation and humane working condition.

On Wednesday last week, the first batch of 138 overstayers – 100 women and 38 children – returned to Manila. On Sunday 39 others arrived through Cebu. Arab News in Jeddah reported on Monday that 54 of the third batch of repatriates took a Saudi Arabian airlines flight after midnight Sunday and 23 others were on Gulf Air flight.

The repatriates had their own sob stories to tell about their experiences as undocumented workers or aliens in the Middle Eastern country. “It’s a welcome relief that we’re now finally allowed to leave," one of the women, Elizabeth Asupre, said in a phone interview with Arab News.Asupre said that while she and her friends were among those whose exit papers were issued early by the Jawazat or Passport Department, waiting at the deportation center seemed like eternity.“Having been left out of the first and second batches, some of us were feeling desperate. That’s why when our names were called out today, we almost shouted with joy," she said, as reported by Ronald Concha for Arab News.“I’m overwhelmed and I want to thank all of those who helped us — the Saudi officials, the consul general and his staff, as well as members of the Filipino community who gave us food, medicines and other donations. Thank you so much," Asupre said.

It was also learned that four children awaiting documentation at the Jeddah holding center were taken to the hospital for treatment of high fever.A 54-year-old male was also confined to a hospital after having been diagnosed with an infectious disease.Last week, an OFW identified as Faisal Bandila died at the King Fahd Hospital hours after he was taken from the holding center when he experienced hypertension while awaiting documentation for his return to Manila. - GMANews.TV

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