Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February 11, 2009

No amnesty in KSA for overstaying Pinoys, says consulate
RONALDO CONCHA, GMANews.TV02/11/2009 03:04 PM
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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Attention, all stranded or distressed Filipinos in Saudi Arabia who wish to go back to the Philippines: Don’t take the so-called “Jeddah backdoor exit" because it no longer exists and the host government currently has no amnesty offer for overstayers.

This warning comes from the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah, which expressed alarm that the number of Filipinos congregating under an overpass in Jeddah in hopes of being deported is again reportedly increasing.

"The rumors are baseless and untrue and it was just being spread by unscrupulous individuals who would like to take advantage of innocent and distressed overstaying Filipino expatriates, who in their eagerness to go back to the Philippines in any way whatsoever including the so called backdoor which is actually nonexistent are ready to part with their hard-earned money," Consul General Ezzedin Tago said in a press statement.

Tago also asked leaders of responsible Filipino community groups all over the kingdom to warn their members against being taken in by syndicates who entice stranded or distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to go to Jeddah.

Jeddah’s Khandara overpass has become a magnet for expatriate workers seeking to return to their countries because immigration authorities often round them up and deport them at the Saudi government’s expense.Expatriate workers who have either ran afoul with Saudi laws or who escaped from their employers also flock to the overpass.

Tago, however, said the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has noticed such practice and is bent on plugging the loophole.He also warned Filipino Muslims on Umrah visit who plan to overstay to think twice.“Overstaying is a violation of the Kingdom’s immigration rules on entry and residency.

Those who have absconded from their sponsors have also violated Saudi laws. If overstaying expatriates will be caught by the authorities, they will be apprehended, detained, processed accordingly and, eventually, deported," he said.

For runaway workers who intend to take advantage of the usual amnesty for umrah overstayers, Tago said it’s no longer that easy.

He said they can only be allowed to leave the kingdom and be deported if their personal and also their employers obligation have been settled and their biometrics have been taken, thus their sponsor/employer will allow them to exit.

He said those who pass through the Khandara overpass will suffer temporarily from detention in a deportation facility where conditions are not favorable and could take weeks or months depending on circumstances of their situation and the readiness and willingness of their employer/sponsor to cooperate.

Tago further warned them not to deal with people not connected with the consulate or who use fictitious name and claiming to be another nationality or claiming to be a hajj or umrah visa holder to cover up one's being an absconding worker can make the process any shorter and easier.

He said it could further worsen the situation and extend the process, particularly, the detention due to the need for police authorities to conduct an investigation on the real identity and circumstances of a possible deportee.

He said this practice exposes those individuals to investigations, resulting in prolonged detention while the authorities ascertain their true identities.

"I advise our overstaying kabayans in the Western Region under the consulate’s jurisdiction to seek the direct assistance of the consulate or the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, which shall be glad to lend a hand as you undergo the legal process of deportation," Tago said.

To avoid aggravating one’s problems, he also remind stranded OFWs and overstayers alike to cooperate by revealing their true identity and the circumstances of their overstay in the Kingdom, presenting their passport and/or iqama; and sharing their employer’s/sponsor’s circumstances and contact particulars so that their legal deportation could possibly be expedited. -

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