Protests in Saudi violate laws: embassy

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Friday, May 3, 2013

MANILA -- The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh on Friday reminded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there that staging rallies and protests violates the laws of the oil-rich kingdom. 

In a statement, the embassy said there is no need for Filipinos in Riyadh to set up camp like those in Jeddah in order for them to be repatriated.

"Filipinos with irregular status who are affected by recent developments and stricter implementation by Saudi authorities regarding labor and immigration law violations need only visit the embassy or Polo [Philippine Overseas Labor Office] to have their respective cases documented and enable them to be given appropriate advice or assistance," the embassy said.

According to the statement, the embassy received several inquiries from Filipinos there verifying the calls of certain groups and individuals who are urging them to set up camps near the Philippine Embassy, the Polo office and the Bahay Kalinga.

Setting up camps will apparently hasten the repatriation of the Filipinos who are affected by Saudi Arabia's intensified crackdown on illegally staying foreign workers.
"The embassy reminds Filipinos in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that public rallies and protests are a violation of Saudi law, and impacts on the ability of the embassy to deliver much-needed consular services to the Filipino community," the statement said.
"The embassy has not authorized any person or group regarding such action, nor has made any representations with the government of Saudi Arabia for any such arrangement," it added.

Before repatriations are allowed, the Filipinos or the Philippine government would have to settle immigration penalties and fees for overstaying. They will also have to renew their iqamas or resident permits.

Those who did not finish their employment contracts would also have to pay their employers a certain fee.

After all these are settled, the Saudi government would then issue exit visas for the Filipinos.
"At present, the embassy is taking information from overstaying Filipinos for documentation purposes, and these cases are endorsed to the Saudi authorities for their appropriate consideration and resolution in accordance with existing regulations," the statement said. (CVB/Sunnex)

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