MANILA, Philippines—Some 30 Filipinos were arrested on still unclear charges in Jeddah this week during a crackdown on illegal workers and employers that the government of Saudi Arabia started on Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.
DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said the Philippine consulate in Jeddah was already looking into the arrest of the Filipinos and whether their apprehension was related to the ongoing crackdown on illegal aliens.
“As of yesterday (Tuesday), the embassy in Riyadh has not monitored any arrest of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) who have violated the Saudi labor law,” Hernandez said at a press briefing.
“However, there were reports of 30 Filipinos who have been arrested in Jeddah. Our consulate in Jeddah is trying to verify details of their arrest,” he added.
He said Philippine missions in Saudi Arabia, host to one of the largest overseas presence of Filipinos with nearly two million OFWs, were on alert on the condition of Filipino migrants who might be apprehended in the crackdown.
Hernandez explained that the Saudi government was on the lookout for foreign workers with expired work permits and “iqamas” or residency permits as well as workers holding jobs outside their declared and approved employment.
The crackdown is also targeting employers hiring workers illegally, Hernandez said.
“Needless to say, the embassy is monitoring what is happening to our people there and it is ready to extend assistance to any Filipino who is arrested because of the violation of the Saudi labor law,” Hernandez said.
He said the embassy was ready to provide assistance to overstaying Filipinos who would like to legalize their documentation.
“What our embassy is trying to say is [that] if you have problems, you come to us and we will see how we could help you,” said Hernandez.