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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Illegal Filipinos Numbers Up In Oman

Muscat: There has been a 100-per cent increase in the number of Filipino migrant workers who don't have any valid residency or work permits in Oman, according to a newly released data.

The data, known as the 'Stock Estimate of Filipinos Overseas', presented by the Commission on Overseas Filipinos (CFO), showed that in 2011, there were some 6,400 undocumented Filipino workers in the Sultanate, whereas in 2010, the number was 3,000.

According to the Ministry of Manpower (MoM), some 12,000 expatriate workers are absconding in Oman, mainly in the fishing areas in the governorate of Al Wusta. "This is a pressing problem across all the governorates in the country. I request government departments, private-sector enterprises, and citizens to cooperate with the MoM to resolve this problem," a senior official of the MoM said.

Expressing shock over the rising figures, Chairperson of Filipino Community Social Club Janete Daang said it is very surprising that the number is so high even though the Philippines Embassy is doing a lot to reduce the number of undocumented Filipinos. "A large number of them enter illegally from other countries, which makes matters worse for us," she told Times of Oman.

Recently, the Philippines Embassy in Muscat closed an employment loophole, which enabled undocumented Filipino nationals to enter the Sultanate without the formal permission of the mission after fleeing from their sponsors in neighbouring countries.

Ernesto C. Bihis, Labour Attaché of the Philippines Embassy in Muscat, noted that all Filipino nationals working in Oman traditionally required a "no objection certificate" to be issued by their embassy in Muscat as part of the visa-application procedure.

"This is mandatory if they are hired from the Philippines," he remarked.
Earlier, migrants entering the country across the border had not been subjected to such procedures, creating a situation where the embassy was not able to properly vouch for them or for the employer.

"We know the embassy officials have managed to change the rule after continuous dialogue with Omani authorities since undocumented workers are more likely to end up with onerous contracts and to encounter immigration or labour cases," Janete Daang added.
Non-payment of salaries.

The most common reasons for their decision to run away from their employers in neighbouring countries are the non-payment of salaries and sometimes physical abuse by their employers. "From just 1,500 in the year 2000, the number of Filipinos without valid residence or work permits is steadily growing in Oman," noted the CFO report.

The Stock Estimate of Filipinos Overseas also showed that in 2011, there were only 140 permanent migrants (immigrants, dual citizens, or legal permanent residents) in the Sultanate, whose stay did not depend on work contracts.

The number of temporary migrants, including Filipinos who are employed overseas but are expected to return, stood at 43,318 in 2011. Students, trainees, entrepreneurs, and businessmen are also considered to be part of this category. 

In 2011, there were 10.46 million overseas Filipinos — five per cent of international migrants worldwide — spread across 217 countries.

To avoid being tricked, the Department of Foreign Affairs has advised all job hunters to check the official list of labour-market opportunities on the Consulate General's website.

The CFO was established in 1980 to promote the interests of Filipino immigrants and permanent residents in other countries and to preserve and strengthen overseas Filipino communities all over the world .

The data covered 214 countries in 2009, 217 in 2010, and 227 in 2011, wherein the CFO noted there were 10.46 million overseas Filipinos, up from 8.6 million in 2009 and 9.5 million in 2010.

Part of the estimate was taken from the remittance records of overseas Filipinos and the departure/arrival documents filled out by immigrants at all airports and seaports in the Philippines.

source:  Times of Oman

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