Amnesty: Filipinos told not to buy air tickets

Philippine government will buy air tickets for those going home but will not refund pre-booked tickets

Amnesty seekers look to their respective country officials for guidance and help on the first day of Amnesty in Al Aweer Amnesty Centre in Dubai on 1st August, 2018. Photo Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Filipinos availing the amnesty in the UAE and wish to go home have been advised not to pre-book or buy their own tickets prior to securing an outpass from the amnesty centres.

On the second day of amnesty on Thursday, Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes reiterated that the Philippine government will shoulder all their expenses related to their exit fees and tickets to Manila plus connecting flights to their provinces.

“I’d like to remind all Filipino nationals who are availing of the amnesty programme and are intending to return home to the Philippines that the Philippine government will be the one shouldering the expenses relative to the exit permits, the removal of absconding cases and the one-way ticket back home,” Cortes told Gulf News.

“Regrettably, if you already have purchased your own tickets, we cannot and we do not have the facility to refund you for that. So I advise all those who want to return to the country, please refrain from purchasing your tickets first.”

Immigration officials announced on Wednesday that air tickets should only be booked 10 days after the issuance of the outpass. Meaning, if an amnesty-seeker received the outpass on the first day of amnesty on August 1, he can only leave the country by August 11.

On the first and second day of amnesty, Gulf News noted that a number of Filipino amnesty-seekers approached consulate officials with tickets booked for the first week of August. They asked if the consulate could reimburse them since the tickets would go waste but this is not possible as per Manila’s Commission on Audit rules.

Cortes said there are consulate officials assigned in all the immigration offices in the Northern Emirates. In amnesty centres where there are no facilities for consulate officials to assist Filipinos and disburse funds due to space constraints, Cortes advised amnesty-seekers who intend to go home to pay the fees first and then proceed to the consulate to get their reimbursement and give their documents for their ticket booking.

Meanwhile, the special team from Manila comprising four officials, including Ambassador Olivia Palala from the Office of the Migrant Workers Affairs, have arrived in the UAE. They have been extending help to amnesty-seekers at the consulate since day one. The embassy also received three additional personnel.

“The Philippine government is giving its all-out support to its nationals during this amnesty period,” Palala assured Filipinos.

Hourly briefings are being conducted at the consulate to properly explain the procedures and guidelines of the amnesty programme and consular procedures. More than 1,100 amnesty-seekers visited the consulate on Wednesday for guidance.

About 50 were issued exit permits at Al Aweer amnesty tent on the first day.

Deputy Consul-General Renato Duenas Jr advised amnesty-seekers who don’t know where their passports are to come to the consulate to check.

“We have a few thousand passports with us from the immigration. They can come to the consulate and check their names and claim their passports,” he told Gulf News.

FAQs of Filipinos and answers

1) What if I don’t have my passport?

Go to the consulate and look for your name on the list of passports returned by the immigration. If your passport is not there, go to the police station to secure a police report that would then allow you to apply for a new passport and rectify your new status as appropriate.

2) What if my passport is expired or about to expire?

Please go to the consulate or embassy to renew your passports at the earliest possible time. A special section dedicated to assist amnesty-seekers has been set up for this. Passports with less than six months validity can be extended but on a case-to-case basis. The extension will only be valid for eight months. Passport renewal is required upon extension. Extended passports can be claimed a day after processing the extension.

Fees still apply. Passport renewal: Dh240; Extension: Dh120

Renewed passports will be available in two to three weeks or three to four weeks after application.

3) What are the requirements for replacement of lost passport?

You will need a birth certificate in security paper issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) or report of birth duly authenticated by the PSA if born abroad; original police report with three photocopies of the English translation; three copies of the data page of the lost passport; duly accomplished affidavit of loss plus 2 photocopies; duly accomplished passport application/renewal form. Fees apply.

If you don’t have your birth certificate, get a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) from the consulate to authorise someone in the Philippines to get you a copy. The consulate is waiving SPA fees for all amnesty-seekers.


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