NGO asks Church to appeal for extension of grace period for illegal Pinoy workers

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ANTIPOLO CITY, June 4, 2013—A labor NGO [non-government organization] called on the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups to appeal for the extension of the 90-day grace period given by the Saudi government to all illegal aliens to complete their documents so that they could work and stay in the oil-rich land. The 90-day grace period has expired yesterday, June 3.

The All-Workers Forum, Inc. (AWF) said in a statement that the Church and other religious groups could push the pressure on the Benigno C. Aquino III government to send a high delegation to Saudi, to personally appeal to the King to issue another decree to extend the grace period to all illegal aliens to complete their documents and avail Iqamas or work visas.

AWF said that they fear that the crackdown could lead into human rights violations.

“We are hoping that the Philippine government would act on this since we have lots of compatriots there who had their Iqamas expired due to one reason or another. On the other hand, we also appeal to the Saudi government to respect human rights whenever they arrest illegal aliens. News reports about the alleged abuses are really disturbing and we are hoping that all of these aren’t true,” said AWF.

Meanwhile, Migrante-Middle East and African Region (Mena) regional director John Leonard Monterona said the Saudi government is “serious” to make Saudi illegal alien-free as part of the Nitaqat policy, or the prioritization of Saudis over other nationals for employment. Under the new system, it is said that local and foreign companies should hire more Saudi residents than nationals.

It is estimated that 1.2 million people, mostly from India, Pakistan, Egypt, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and from other Asian countries, are staying in Saudi with no proper documents.

Monterona, on the other hand, justifies the extension of days to process the documents of illegal aliens saying that three months are not enough to get all the requirements done.

“Some of them are forging their documents, thus creating more problems than solution to their residency problem. That is why, we are appealing to our Government to act on this, and to other concerned to appeal for the necessary extension so that everyone could have an ample time to make their stay here, in Saudi, legal,” the migrant rights’ advocate said. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

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