THE Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) targets 5,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from Saudi Arabia to avail of their 90-day “Nation without Violations” Amnesty Program.
Those who can avail of the program include Filipinos residing at Saudi Arabia whose Iqama, the identification card given to foreign workers and paid for by the employers, expired on or before March 19 and Filipino workers with work permit but no Iqama Identification card.
“The advantage if the workers have Iqama is mobility. You can transact with any other government agencies. If you don’t have Iqama, you will have trouble sending money to your family here in the Philippines,” Bellido added.
Reported runaway workers on or before March 19 and infiltrators crossing Saudi borders can also avail of the amnesty program. Even the pilgrimage Umraj and Haj overstayer and the pilgrims without Haj permit in the place, can come back home through the program.
Nations without Violations program includes airport assistance for the distressed workers and post-repatriation services like temporary shelter at the Owwa halfway home, psychosocial counseling and stress debriefing, medical referral, and provisions for their transport services and fare to their respective provinces.
Owwa Regional Director Eduardo Bellido, during the Kapehan sa Dabaw weekly media forum at SM City Davao, said a total of 331 OFWs availed of the amnesty program, which started March 19 and will last until June 17.
A total of 105 undocumented workers from Saudi Arabia arrived in Manila last Sunday, April 16, followed by 150 workers who came back with President Rodrigo Duterte Monday, April 17. The first batch of 31 workers arrived on April 11.
Bellido said the numbers show the data nationwide and they have yet to filter how many of these come from Davao Region.
“This is a 90-day amnesty program with the purpose of bringing back home our fellowmen who are stranded in Saudi Arabia. They will be assured that they will shoulder no penalties when they avail of this program,” said Bellido.
A total of P10,000 cash from Owwa and President Rodrigo Duterte will also be given to the availees, aside from the non-cash livelihood package to be given to the Owwa members worth P10,000, dubbed as “Balik-Pinas! Balik-Hanapbuhay! Program.”
The National Reintegration Center for OFWs will also launch a livelihood program intended only for non-Owwa members.
The Nation without Violations program is a joint effort of the Philippine government, through the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Saudi Arabia, the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Owwa.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on April 18, 2017.
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