Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday urged all illegal OFWs in Oman to avail of the Sultanate’s three-month amnesty offer to overstaying foreigners, to avoid legal sanctions, including deportation. “I strongly urge our OFWs in Oman who, for various reasons, have been staying illegally in the Sultanate, to avail of this amnesty and go home to the Philippines or correct their stay to avoid the repercussion of their being illegal foreigners in Oman,” said Baldoz. She cited a report from Labor Attaché Nasser Mustafa, which said that the Sultanate of Oman is offering the three-month amnesty as part of its continuous efforts to regulate the presence of foreign workers in the country. The three-month amnesty is from 1 April to 30 June. Labor Attaché Mustafa said the Ministry and the Royal Oman Police have been conducting raids of late against undocumented migrant workers, putting tighter controls on work permits and tenancy contracts, and stringently scrutinizing landlords and their tenants. He said Oman’s Ministry of Manpower recently briefed labor attaches of foreign embassies in Muscat about the amnesty. “This amnesty will also help foreign workers who are willing to stay and work in Oman, but subject to the guidelines under the labor law promulgated by the Sultanate’s Royal Decree 35/2003,” Mustafa further said in his report. Briefly, the amnesty guidelines are as follows: • Registration of Filipino nationals shall be at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO). • All required documents of overseas Filipino workers who want to avail of the amnesty program shall be prepared by the POLO which will endorse it to the Oman Ministry of Manpower. • Employers/sponsors of illegal workers will also be asked to comment in writing amnesty applications. If employers/sponsors fail to comply, the worker will be repatriated. • Penalty for overstaying and money claims of employers’ expenses during the deployment of workers will be waived. • All applicants will need to have themselves finger printed, except children aged 18 years and below. • Applicants whose documents were received by the Oman Ministry of Manpower must leave the Sultanate within one month. Mustafa also said the Oman Ministry of Manpower has advised POLO and Philippine Embassy representatives to be at the Ministry every day. “A small drawback of the amnesty program is that repatriated workers under the amnesty program cannot return to Oman within three years from the time they were repatriated,” he said In 2009, the Sultanate of Oman offered an amnesty which lasted until the start of 2011. It helped over 60,000 overstaying workers to return home without facing any legal action. There had also been similar amnesties in 2005 and 2007. Omani authorities had put in place a new set of measures in April 2014 to help uncover undocumented migrant workers. Officials carried out raids on expat homes, put tighter controls on work permits and tenancy contracts, and placed landlords and their tenants to more scrutiny as part of the crackdown. Meanwhile, Mustafa said the POLO in Oman only has 15 wards. Of this number, six have ready plane tickets. They were already included in the priority list of repatriates. The Labor Attaché has already asked the Department’s assistance to produce tickets for the nine workers so that they could join the first batch of repatriates. “We can expect zero wards this month,” said Mustafa. END/cmaring/iva

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