August 17, 2009 by DFA-PISU
PR-647-09, 17 August 2009 – The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is assisting Filipino workers, most of whom are members of Migrante International in Saudi Arabia, who were arrested for illegal “mixed gathering.”
The group, which consists of 10 officers and members of Migrante and eight FiIipina workers, were arrested by Saudi police during a raid on August 14 in the Badiyah Area.
Local laws forbid the gathering of men and women in private and public places, unless they are married couples or with their families.
Upon the instruction of Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio Villamor, Philippine Embassy personnel immediately went to the police station and asked about the welfare of the detained Filipinos. They were also allowed to observe the conduct of the investigation.
Embassy representatives informed the investigating officer that Migrante is an NGO recognized by the Embassy and that a meeting might have been taking place when the residence of a Migrante member was raided.
Mr. Ricardo Joson, Migrante’s Riyadh coordinator, and two others, have been released. The rest remains under police custody while the legitimacy of their stay in Saudi Arabia is being evaluated by the examination of their iqamas.
The Embassy representatives also offered to contact the employers of the Filipino workers and requested Saudi police authorities to allow them temporary release to their employers.
In alleged immorality cases, only the Saudi Prosecutor’s Office can recommend kafala (sponsorship system were employers have control over their workers’ visas) after the conduct of the investigation. The case of the Filipino workers was transmitted by the police authorities to the Prosecutor’s Office on August 16 for further action.
DFA Executive Director for Migrants’ Workers Affairs Agnes Cervantes is in touch with Migrante National Office chairperson Gary Martinez and has assured him that the DFA will continue to closely monitor the case and provide possible legal assistance when necessary.
As the Embassy assured that consular assistance will be extended to those in detention, it reminded all concerned to be mindful of and observe local customs, traditions and laws. END