MANILA, November 5, 2013—A Catholic priest appealed to the Saudi government for humane treatment of undocumented Filipino workers waiting for repatriation to the Philippines as deadline for them to stay in the country lapsed November 3.
Fr. Edwin Corros, CS, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Care for Migrant and Itinerant People (ECMI) stressed that undocumented Filipinos in Saudi have basic human rights and should be treated humanely.
The Saudi government on November 3 declared it will not extend anymore the deadline given to undocumented Filipino workers to correct their status and that it will impose a crackdown.
“For those who are still undocumented, whether they will be detained or imprisoned, we are hoping that they would not be harmed like what we have heard from the news that some undocumented Filipinos where harassed by the authorities there. And for those who have committed crimes in Saudi, they too have basic human rights and should also be respected for that matter,” Corros said during a Church forum in Intramuros, Manila, November 5.
Corros however pointed that the root of the problem for OFWs is not their situation abroad but in their own country.
“If the government cannot really find a solution to the unemployment or underemployment [problem] here in our country, many Filipinos will still choose to go abroad,” Corros said.
Following the full implementation of the “Saudization” policy, thousands of undocumented Filipinos had no choice but to accept repatriation or suffer imprisonment.
The Saudization policy was implemented in 2011 which requires companies to increase the share of Saudi manpower in their employment to solve the country’s unemployment problem.
Illegal migrants who will be caught by Saudi authorities will be imprisoned for 6 months to 1 year and will be made to pay 12,000 to 20,000 Saudi rials or around 130,000 to 230,000 Philippine pesos. (Jandel Posion)