Filipino migrant rights group Migrante on Tuesday said at least 30 Filipino workers were rounded up by Saudi police as the oil-rich kingdom intensified its crackdown on illegal migrants.
“Saudi authorities heightened crackdown on undocumented migrants that started last week nabbed at least 30 OFWs as per the initial combined reports we have received so far from our affiliates in the Kingdom,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante regional coordinator in Middle East.
“The common notion that illegal migrants were the very reason why crime rate escalates in the Kingdom is fairly objectionable. Most of the so called illegal migrants were actually victim of abuses, maltreatment and labor rights violations who were forced to abscond,” Monterona said in a statement.
According to Monterona, the Saudi’s Ministry of Interior issued a stern warning last month saying that it will intensify the crackdown on illegal expatriates as they have been blamed for the rash of crimes in the Kingdom.
“Those who were nabbed included mostly Asian migrant workers without resident permits, those working in jobs not matching with their work permit, and others working with another employer who were not their sponsors,” Monterona said.
Monterona said that in most areas in Saudi capital, the police conducted check points and at times searching houses where there are suspected illegal migrants.
Monterona however appealed to the Saudi government “not to treat the undocumented migrants as mere criminals.”
“The undocumented migrants certainly didn’t like their situation being violators of the host government immigration and labor policies, but there are factors that need to look at such as the treatment and respect on the rights of expatriate workers by their employers,” Monterona pointed out.
Migrante urged the Philippine government to provide assistance to and follow up the immediate deportation of undocumented OFWs who are now languishing in Saudi jails.
“We would like to remind the Aquino government that there are 200 plus distressed Filipino women in Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh, while about 80 male in a shelter rented by the PH embassy most of them have been there for at least 3 months to 1 year,” Monterona said.
Monterona a assailed President Benigno Aquino III for not giving “swift and free mass repatriation of the distressed and stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia.”
In Brunei, meanwhile, the government has enforced a salary increase for Filipino household workers from $200 to $400 a month, the Labor department said on Tuesday.
The pay hike is part of the House Service Worker Protection and Welfare Enhancement Reform Package issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said. With Vito Barcelo