By ROY RAMOS
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines
The Philippines expressed its appreciation to Saudi Arabia for its second round of extensions of the amnesty program that will allow undocumented overseas Filipino workers in the kingdom to return home.
At the sidelines of the ongoing 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York, Philippine Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano personally conveyed Manila’s gratitude to his Saudi Arabia counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir, according to a statement issued by the country’s Foreign Affairs Department.
"The Philippine Government would like to thank you very much for the extension of your amnesty program," Secretary Cayetano told Minister Al-Jubeir after the latter delivered his country's statement before the General Assembly.
Riyadh’s amnesty program which started on March 29, initially ended on June 29, but was extended until July 24, and allowed more than 8,400 Filipino migrant workers to come home in various batches.
The second extension of the amnesty program is expected to benefit over 6,000 more undocumented Filipinos who were not able to avail themselves of the initial amnesty offer, said Cayetano.
"We really appreciate this gesture of the Saudi government that would allow us to bring home many more of our kababayans who are still stranded there," Secretary Cayetano said.
The extension was granted in response to the request of several countries, the statement added.