MANILA, Philippines—Officials from the Philippine embassy in Washington D.C. are to visit early next week with two Filipino women rescued by American authorities from a Saudi household in the US capital in a suspected case of human trafficking, the embassy said Saturday.
In a statement sent to the Inquirer, the embassy said Consul General Ariel Peñaranda made the request to “concerned US agencies” on Friday afternoon (Saturday morning in Manila) for a consular visit to the rescued women.
“US authorities immediately acted on the request and arrangements are being made to allow Consul General Peñaranda, Labor Attaché Luzviminda Padilla and Welfare Officer Saul de Vries to visit the two Filipinas on Monday,” said the embassy.
Acting on a tip from a still unclear source, US immigration officials on Tuesday took custody of two Filipino women from a home in Virginia known to be owned by the Saudi government. The women were reportedly working under “circumstances that amounted to human trafficking” in the home of a Saudi attache, a US official said.
CNN reported that the women experienced maltreatment and were forced to work long hours without pay, complaints that many other Filipino domestic workers in the Saudi mainland had aired in countless cases of employer abuse over the years.
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr. said the embassy was prepared to “extend the necessary assistance” to the two Filipino workers.
The embassy declined to provide details on the case given the ongoing US investigation. It also did not say which US agency is currently looking after the Filipino women and their location in the U.S.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, said it would be closely watching the progress of the U.S. probe.
“An ongoing investigation on the case is being conducted by US authorities. We will be monitoring developments on this case,” said DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez.
The US government has been among the Philippines’ staunchest partners against human trafficking, supporting the country’s justice system to enhance prevention and enforcement programs and spreading awareness through public information campaigns.