MANILA— The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said they plan to send another batch of distressed Filipinos home from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following the successful repatriation of 105 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) yesterday.
At around 9 a.m., distressed Filipinos onboard Philippine Airlines Flight No. PR657 landed in Manila along with Ambassador Constancio Vingno.
In an interview, DFA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola told reporters that most of the 105 Filipinos are undocumented and have escaped from employers.
“Most of them are household workers… some were caught by the immigration because of overstaying. They usually enter through tourist visas,” she said.
According to Hans Leo Cacdac, chief of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), there are still about 130 Filipinos living in their shelter in Abu Dhabi.
He said the government will try to send them home “by end of this year”. Cacdac explained that the process is first come, first serve basis.
“Depende kasi, kung sino ang naunang dumating doon sa shelter na kailangan iproseso agad, ito ay idinudulog sa UAE immigration authorities para mabigay ang kanilang exit visa (It depends on who arrive at the shelter first and have their documents processed. We refer them also to UAE immigration authorities for the issuance of their exit visas),” he said.
According to Arriola, the process usually takes at least one to two weeks at most it may take a month of processing.
“Minsan yung mga amo nila, nagsasampa ng kaso. Kung wala namang objection yung sponsor nila, nakakauwi sila ng mabilis (Sometimes their employers file a case and if there is no objection they can be repatriated earlier),” she said.
Citing the signing of the Philippine-UAE Memorandum of Understanding on Labor Cooperation this year, as well as the signing of the Law of Domestic Workers which is expected to take effect in November, Arriola and Cacdac are optimistic that cases of human trafficking and illegal recruitment will decrease.
“With the new law of the UAE, we are really hoping that mababawasan na yung cases na ganito,” Arriola said.
Last October 5, the DFA also repatriated some 51 distressed Filipinos as a follow-up on their September 18 and 19 efforts of sending combined 79 others home.
Since May 2017, 545 distressed nationals were repatriated by the Embassy.