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Saudi Arabia has granted the Philippines' appeal to exempt the thousands of overstaying and illegally working Filipinos in the kingdom from the payment of all charges and penalties before they leave the kingdom, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Monday.

She said the kingdom had issued new guidelines allowing the undocumented Filipinos to avoid jail and eventual deportation and giving them two options to legalize their stay: return to the Philippines or find a new employer and stay.



The guidelines will be in effect until July 3, when the grace period for illegal workers to correct their status also expires.

"I warmly welcome the guidelines and express my gratitude to the Saudi government for their timely issuance," Baldoz said.

She said there were about 10,000 illegal Filipinos in Saudi Arabia—3,500 in Riyadh and 6,500 in Jeddah—who had been registered and profiled since the kingdom's intensified campaign against illegals.

The guidelines say that the Filipinos who will go home will not be prevented from returning to Saudi Arabia if they are able to secure a new entry visa.

Those who will choose to stay have two options: find a new employer or go back to their original employer.

Bandoz on Monday also said that the Philippines and Saudi Arabia on Sunday signed an agreement that would better protect the welfare of the Filipino household workers in the kingdom.

She said she and Saudi Arabian Labor Minister Adel Bin Mohammed Fakeih signed the deal at the Hilton Jeddah hotel.

"We expect that this agreement will increase the number of [Filipino household workers] employed in Saudi Arabia, but we are very confident that the cases of abuse will be less because the agreement ensures fair and humane treatment of our [workers] and involves not only the government but also the private recruitment agencies and other stakeholders in its implementation," Baldoz said.

She said there were an estimated 670,000 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia, but only 9 percent of them or 60,000 were household workers.

Source: http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/05/21/saudi-allows-illegal-ofws-to-leave-without-penalties/

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