DUBAI The new Philippine Consul General in Dubai has urged his countrymen who are illegally staying in the UAE to use the amnesty announced by the UAE government.

Frank Cimafranca said: “This is a very good opportunity which has been generously given by the UAE government … please avail of this opportunity.”

There are an estimated half-a-million Filipinos in the UAE and “a few thousands” could be illegally staying in the country. The UAE has declared an amnesty from December 4, 2012 to February 3, 2013.

Cimafranca said no arrangements had been made yet specifically for amnesty seekers or to get discounted airfares for them.

“We will assist our people in any way we can,” said the lawyer-diplomat. Many of the amnesty seekers are household workers who have run away from their legal employers.

There are about 30,000 Filipina domestic workers in the UAE. The 53-year-old consul replaced Benito Valeriano who has been posted as ambassador to India.

Cimafranca previously served in diplomatic posts in Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and the Netherlands before he was moved to the UAE.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, the official vowed to get additional passport biometric-taking machines to improve consular services for citizens in Dubai and the northern emirates, home to about 400,000 Filipinos.