181205 philippine amnesty
An amnesty seeker talks to an official from the Philippine Consulate, at the Al Aweer Federal Authority for identity and citizenship, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners affairs Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: If a bounced cheque or bank case is keeping you from availing of the amnesty in the UAE, this is your chance to settle it to avail of the newly extended leniency so you can go home before Christmas or for the new year.

Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes said the UAE amnesty programme, which was extended for the second time this month, will give illegal residents the chance they very much need in order to start anew in their home country.

The amnesty period began on August 1 and ran until October 31 but was extended for the whole month of November. The leniency was again extended until the end of December to accommodate illegal residents who were not able to avail of the four-month amnesty earlier.

Cortes said the consulate is willing and able to assist and guide amnesty seekers with bounced cheque cases or rental disputes.

“We’ve had 10 success stories of our legal retainer helping out our compatriots with bank or cheque cases by negotiating with financial institutions to work out a settlement amount to resolve these issues. It makes it easier for the ones in question to resolve their bank cases thereby making them eligible to avail of the UAE amnesty programme,” Cortes said on Tuesday.

Cortes clarified, however, that the Philippine government cannot pay for the outstanding personal loans or credit cards of amnesty seekers but only provide legal assistance.

“What is important is if they seek the consulate’s assistance, we could determine how best to strategise and help them out with their cases and so we can work on it a little quicker so they can still avail of the amnesty this month.”

“Regrettably, the payment of their individual debt or personal loans cannot be shouldered by the Philippine government [using taxpayer’s money]. The Philippine government is willing to assist its nationals in distress but of course there are legal impediments or accounting rules and regulations that we have to adhere to.”

Illegal residents who want to settle loans may secure money from their loved ones back home or from financial institutions in the Philippines with lenient requirements. Staying in the UAE without any proper plan as to how they will settle their dues will only compound their problems and overstay fines.

As of November 29, as many as 7,398 Filipinos have been granted amnesty in the whole of UAE since it started on August 1. More than a majority or 65 per cent of the amnesty grantees chose to stay by getting the six-month jobseeker visa or converting to employment visa because they already had job offers.

Some 2,732 were repatriated over the past four months. The Philippine government shouldered their exit fees, lifting of absconding fees, air ticket and cash assistance of $100 (Dh367).

Cortes said very few illegal Filipinos availed of the amnesty in November. He hopes those who need it would take advantage of the amnesty extension this time.

Step-by-step guide on clearing cases

If you want to avail of the amnesty but you have a police case due to a loan default or bounced cheque, do this:

1) Write to your bank and request for available settlement options of your debt. Ask the minimum settlement amount for one-time payment in black and white or choose the option that you can best stick to.

2) Once the bank sends you a settlement agreement, complete with the bank’s letterhead, stamp, etc, settle the amount according to the terms in the settlement agreement. Ensure that the settlement letter has a provision that states the bank will withdraw the case against you after settlement.

3) Once the debt is settled, request a clearance letter from the bank. Show this clearance letter to the bank’s lawyer and secure a release letter.

4) If you have a police case, show the release letter from the bank’s lawyer to the police as proof that they have cancelled the case. The police officer can clear the case in the system in front of you.