Manila — The Philippine government said it is checking on reports of abuse of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on illegal workers after one woman complained they were treated “like animals”.
Thirty repatriated Filipino illegals on Monday said they were treated badly by Saudi authorities, according to reports.
One woman, a domestic helper, told AFP that Saudi police placed them in a crowded cell for four days.
Another woman said they were then paraded from immigration to the airport with their feet chained.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said diplomats had contacted the kingdom’s human rights council to ensure the protection of Filipino workers there, said reports.
“We have sent rapid response teams there, we have formed teams to visit jails, detention centres, police stations to make sure that our people are okay, and if necessary to issue them travel documents,” Del Rosario told reporters.
“In terms of our meeting with the head of the human rights council in Saudi Arabia, we hope to be able to clarify (that we expect) that our people will be treated well,” he said.
Del Rosario said there were an estimated 660,000 Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia, though the number of illegals is unclear.
The amnesty period for illegals expired Sunday, and a Saudi crackdown was launched Monday.
Del Rosario acknowledged that many of the remaining Filipinos in Saudi Arabia could be there illegally and faced detention and arrest if caught.
“If they are arrested, I think it is very clear that they will be detained in preparation for their deportation,” he said.