Some undocumented OFWs acted as guarantors to their friends
KUWAIT CITY, April 5: More than a thousand of undocumented Filipinos have applied for the amnesty program of the Kuwait government from April 1 to April 5 and have gone home to the Philippines without paying fines and with free air tickets from the host government.
The amnesty for residence violators from April 1-30, 2020 is part of Kuwait’s precautionary measure to curb the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 in the country.
However, hundreds of undocumented Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Kuwait would have gone home if not for their travel ban due to the debts or loans they have incurred from telecommunication companies, banks, lending companies and individuals.
Mario, not his real name, undocumented for two years now after his company filed an absconding case against him tried to apply for an amnesty on April 1 but his application was disapproved due to the KD 560 debt from a telecommunication company. “It’s like a dead end for me now. What will I do? I’m jobless with nowhere to stay and no food to eat and I can’t leave the country. I’m stuck here and wait for God’s mercy,” he lamented as he called on the Philippine Embassy to help him and those other OFWs who are in the same predicament.
Some undocumented OFWs who only acted as guarantors to their friends who applied for loans have been slapped with travel ban too. “I really want to go home this amnesty period but I have a travel ban because I agreed to be a guarantor to a friend who took a loan of KD 1,500 from a lending company but she did not pay and left the country. I hope the Philippine embassy can help us,” appealed Nina, an undocumented OFW for four years now.
Philippine Embassy Charge d’ Affaires to Kuwait Charleson Hermosura confirmed to the Arab Times on Sunday that they have received reports of undocumented OFWs whose amnesty applications were disapproved due to loan-related travel ban. “Loan cases are under the Ministry of Justice and these cases have to be heard out in court for them to be cleared. This is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice and not under the Ministry of Interior. We all know that courts are closed now due to the public holiday. The Philippine Embassy will try to help by exploring some legal remedies to assist those undocumented OFWs with loans. We will see what we can do when the courts open after the public holiday,” stated Hermosura although stressing that there may be no guarantee that the ban will be lifted depending on the court’s decision.
Hermosura thanked the Kuwait government especially the Ministry of Interior and all the volunteers for all their assistance accorded to the Filipinos during the amnesty application period.
Meanwhile, a group of undocumented Filipinos who have loanrelated travel ban is planning to go to the Philippine Embassy after the public holiday to seek legal assistance as the amnesty will end on April 30 yet. “We will try to take a shot. There’s no harm in trying. I hope the court will give us a special consideration based on humanitarian ground during this time of COVID-19 pandemic. We want to go home and be with our family,” appealed Chris, an undocumented OFW for a year now.
Third Secretary and Deputy Consul at the embassy of the Philippines in Kuwait Charles Hermosura has commended Kuwaiti authorities for granting amnesty to residency law violators and allowing them to leave the country without paying fines, reports Al-Anba daily.
In a special statement, Hermosura said the Kuwaiti government brought all concerned parties together under one roof to facilitate the procedures, describing the process as fast and distinct. He revealed that the fl ight that departed Friday morning was scheduled to airlift 334 male and female violators of the residence law who are beneficiaries of the amnesty from the Filipino community, adding other flights are expected to evacuate those who want to benefit from the amnesty. He pointed out that the embassy is making tremendous efforts to prepare travel documents for violators from their community, as most of them do not have passports. On the Kuwaiti efforts to combat coronavirus and limit its spread, he described the measures taken by Kuwait as efficient and effective, adding “we values those measures, seeing as they do not differentiate a citizen and a resident”. He reiterated that Kuwaiti government is keen on the safety of everyone.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff