Lily B. Libo-on / 5 December 2012 (Khaleejtimes)
Hundreds of amnesty seekers have poured into the Philippine consulate and the Consulate-General of Ethiopia on the first day of the two-month amnesty programme for illegal residents.
Filipino Cherry R. said she resigned from her job upon the demands of her company when she ran into trouble with several banks for delinquent accounts. “I wanted to leave the UAE but I was informed by a friend, who went to check with the police and the immigration on my behalf, that two banks had imposed a travel ban. Even at the time my father died, I could not go home. This amnesty is a great opportunity for me to go home or to legitimise my status,” she said.
Cherry and her friend Hijasmine were among the hundreds of Filipino amnesty seekers, who reached the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) of the consulate to signify intention to avail themselves of the fourth cycle of amnesty.
“I ran away from my employer five years ago due to maltreatment, lack of rest and insufficient food. I wanted to go home but my employers filed absconding case against me. So, I will take advantage of this amnesty programme,” Hijasmine said.
Susan E. has also been seeking for amnesty. “I have long wanted to go home and see my family. But, since the day I ran away after my employers failed to give me my salary, I had been trying to fend myself by doing part-time jobs for almost four years. I could not leave the UAE as the employers reported me to the police.”
More than 200 amnesty seekers reached POLO to inquire about the process and seek assistance.
Consul-General Frank R. Cimafranca made an appeal to all Filipino organisations in Dubai to assist the needy in getting air tickets during the amnesty period. “Let us all join hands and give our “kababayans” an advance Christmas gift by extending them assistance in securing air tickets to be home for Christmas.”
The Consul-General said a request can be put forward to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for funds to acquire air tickets but it might take time. On absconding cases, he said that the consulate needs more information from amnesty seekers as absconding involves breach of contract. Philippine Ambassador Grace R. Princesa said the embassy will seek clarification from the Ministry of Interior on various issues in the amnesty package to better serve the needy.
“We still have to verify what we read in the papers about the ‘no ban’ issue,” the ambassador said.
At the Ethiopian Consulate-General, Fananesh A. said she has been illegally staying in the UAE for five years, and though she wanted to go home, she could not go back due to travel ban from banks. “With this amnesty, I am looking forward to seeing my family again.”
Her friend Abenet S. was absconding from her employer, which stopped her from leaving the country. “My father died and that day I cried for days because I could not go home. I felt I was put in a cage. Now is my time to go. Thanks to the UAE government.”
Many Ethiopians have also come forward but no official figures have been released as yet.