DFA says any maltreatment of OFWs unacceptable
MANILA, Philippines – Following reports of Filipino migrants rounded up and allegedly chained by Saudi police before being deported, the Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday urged victims to come forward so formal complaints may be filed.
“Once we receive the details of the incident, we will send it to our ambassador in Saudi Arabia so we may complain of the abuses and violation of rights (committed against Filipinos),” DFA Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said in Filipino over an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990AM.
Hernandez called on the victims to visit their office and narrate their ordeal. He said their narration in the form of an affidavit will enable the Philippine government to take action on allegations of maltreatment and abuses against overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid a crackdown on illegal migrants in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
On Monday, 30 Filipino workers deported from Saudi Arabia complained of maltreatment by authorities. One of them said they were “treated like animals” as Saudi police kept them in a crowded cell for four days and their feet chained before finally being paraded at the airport.
“If we are able to verify it…that they were maltreated, abused at the detention center and until they were brought to the airport…this is unacceptable,” Hernandez said.
He said the Philippine embassy in Saudi will study the facts and will recommend the appropriate action to be taken by the government.
“Any abuse or maltreatment committed against our OFWs is unacceptable. This should not be tolerated, (especially) without appropriate action from us (the government),” the DFA spokesperson said.
The amnesty deadline for illegal immigrants in Saudi Arabia expired on Sunday, marking the start of a clampdown on undocumented foreign workers who have yet to legalize their status or leave the country.
Hernandez said around 1,500 OFWs in Riyadh and Jeddah were awaiting their immigration clearance and exit visa, many of them staying in Philippine government-owned temporary shelters.
He called on other undocumented Filipinos to seek the help of the embassy and apply for immediate repatriation.
Hernandez said there have been no reports of arrested Filipinos yet.
Migrante Middle East told INQUIRER.net that Saudi authorities have been rounding up migrants at their company accommodations.
The group said at least three truck-full of foreign workers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have been arrested in Riyadh.
They said they were hoping that Filipinos will be spared from the crackdown.
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