MANILA, Philippines - Saudi Arabia is expected to start its crackdown on illegal workers in the country on Monday (November 4), as it rejected an extension of the amnesty period.
Saudi authorities have reiterated there would be no more extension of the amnesty period, which lapsed on Sunday (November 3).
"Reports published on some social networking websites and channels about the possibility of another extension for illegals to correct their status are not true. The amnesty deadline ends on Sunday and government agencies will swing into action the following day," Hattab Al-Enezi, spokesman of the Ministry of Labor, said on Arab News.
“The inspection of commercial premises will begin on Monday as planned. Various arms of the ministry are ready for the inspections. The government agencies, however, will not arrest those holding relevant documents and waiting to legalize their status or be repatriated," he added.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez said Saudi has already extended the deadline twice.
"Last day ng 2nd extension ng grace period pero wala pang sinasabi ang Saudi Arabia kung ii-implement yung mga dating ipinaiiral tungkol sa immigration and labor regulations ng kanilang bansa," Hernandez told DZMM.
Despite the statement of the Ministry of Labor, Hernandez said the DFA is still hoping for an extension.
"Nagpadala po tayo ng sulat na extending grace period for another, or we just left it open kung ilang months pa ang ibibigay na extension," he said.
Saudi Arabia is implementing "Saudization" rule, which prioritizes Saudi citizens for employments and reduces the number of illegal workers in the Kingdom.
With lapse of the amnesty deadline, undocumented Filipino workers may now face fines of up to 100,000 Saudi riyals (around P1.15 million) and up to two years in jail. Saudi employers will also be punished for hiring illegal workers.
"Kailangan magbayad ng multa, yung iba huhulihin at idi-detain muna bago ma-repatriate, maaaring 1 month, 3 months to 6 months. Ganon po alam natin na detention for this immigration cases," he said.
Hernandez said some 1,500 OFWs have gone to the embassies and consulates and are waiting for their immigration clearances.
The DFA is continuing to repatriate OFWs, which has already reached a total of 4,420.