MANILA – Around a thousand Filipinos illegally working or overstaying in Bahrain have availed of the government’s amnesty offer, the Philippine embassy in Manana said.
The amnesty program of the Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) took effect on July 1. It allows illegally or overstaying workers to be repatriated without payment of immigration penalties and blacklisting, and with the option to return. It also provides a chance for illegal workers to legalize their status and transfer employment without the consent of their original sponsors.
According to the embassy, most of those who availed of the program were Filipino women deployed as household service workers. Many wanted to legalize their status and transfer employment to new sponsors. However, only a few showed intent to be repatriated.
Passports of many of those who wish to stay are with their employers or agencies in Bahrain. Others lacked the proper documentation for issuance of passports or travel papers and have neither Bahrain nor Philippine government-issued identification documents.
The embassy is now conducting daily briefings on the guidelines, assistance in the verification of workers’ immigration status and in the renewal/issuance of passport or travel document. It also continues to collaborate with the LMRA on the translation to Filipino language of the guide on the amnesty requirements and procedures, for distribution to concerned parties.
Likewise, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (POLO-OWWA) has been assisting in the retrieval of the workers’ passports from employers and agencies.