Government to assist Filipinos abused in Saudi Arabia

MANILA, (PNA) — The government is prepared to support Filipinos seek justice after some were reportedly abused and humiliated in the ongoing crackdown on illegal immigrants in Saudi Arabia, Malacanang said on Tuesday.

“Tungkulin po ng ating pamahalaan na ipagtanggol ang karangalan at karapatan ng lahat ng mamamayan,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in a press briefing at the Palace.

“Kung meron pong sapat na katibayan na ito ay naganap, at sila ay handang magharap ng pormal na usapin, tutulungan po sila ng ating pamahalaan na magawaran sila ng katarungan sa kanilang sinapit,” he said.

Thirty Filipino workers arrived Monday from Saudi Arabia said they were abused and humiliated in the midst of a Saudi crackdown on illegal migrants as part of its “Saudization” policy.

The Filipinos claimed that Saudi police rounded them up and placed them in a crowded cell for four days before they were paraded from the immigration center to the airport.

The Filipino workers were among an estimated 6,700 Filipino workers stranded in parts of Saudi Arabia where an amnesty for undocumented foreigners ended on Sunday.

As to the proposal of some non-government organizations for the Philippine government to hire private lawyers to speed up the repatriation of Filipinos there, Coloma said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) handles the concerns of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia.

“Ang Department of Foreign Affairs po ang tumututok sa usaping iyan. Meron po tayong konsulado heneral sa Jeddah at embassy sa Riyadh at sila po ang magpapanukala kung ano pang karagdagang hakbang ang kinakailangan, bukod pa doon sa mga naisagawa na at kasalukuyan pang isinasagawa, kaya hihintayin po namin ang rekomendasyon ng ating Department of Foreign Affairs,” Coloma said.

“Saudization” is a national policy of Saudi Arabia encouraging employment of Saudi nationals in the private sector, which was largely dominated by Asian, European and American expatriate workers.

The Saudi government has enacted policies to promote “Saudization,” including warnings to companies that will fail to comply with regulations will not get government contracts.