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Duterte tells Saudi labor chief: Let me bring home illegal OFWs now.

President Rodrigo Duterte has informed the Saudi labor minister, Dr. Ali bin Nasser Afis, of his plan to immediately bring home illegally staying Filipinos during his return to Manila, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Wednesday.

Bello divulged to reporters what Duterte told Afis during their meeting at the King's private residence on Tuesday.

Duterte brought up the matter after Afis had informed him that King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud had issued a proclamation, granting amnesty to illegal migrants here on March 29.

'The President was steadfast in his decision,' Bello said.

When he departed from Davao City on Monday, Duterte announced he would bring home troubled Filipinos in Riyadh.

Bello said Duterte had actually asked Afis if it was possible for him to do so in his trip back to the Philippines, as it was among his priorities in visiting the kingdom.

Among those that Duterte targeted to fly home were those at the Bahay Kalinga here, a shelter for female undocumented overseas Filipino workers.

Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government might have to spend for the airfare of those who have availed of the amnesty that the Saudi government granted to undocumented migrants as Duterte 'likes to bring them home.'

At least 5,000 Filipinos are expected to take advantage of the amnesty program, according to Philippine Embassy officials.

As to the issue of clemency for at least 10 Filipinos on Saudi death row, Abella said Duterte could not at this time make an appeal to King Salman.

'The process has not yet reached the level of the king (it is still in the courts and judgments are not final yet), in which case, there is no place for us to be asking for this thing so let us wait for the process regarding death row issues,' he said.

Duterte, Abella said, would only be able to seek clemency if the decision on their cases had become final already.

'Like I said, it is not the time and place to discuss the matter, only when it has reached the king,' he said.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Apr 12, 2017
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