OFWs air concern amid massive Saudi crackdown

By Iya Estrada, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau

Posted at Apr 05 2013 04:11 PM | Updated as of Apr 06 2013 12:11 AM

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Almost 2 million alleged illegal expats in Saudi Arabia will lose their jobs due to the massive crackdown conducted by the Ministry of Labor to intensify the implementation of Saudization or Nitaqat system.

PEBA or Pinoy Expats / OFW Blog Awards Facebook page has been proactive in disseminating information regarding raids and arrest which are basically shared to them by OFWs affected in Saudi Arabia.

“Yung mga post is galing sa mga individuals within the page, mostly from Riyadh yung nag-post. We encourage them to post. Nagpo-post sila ng pictures and comments, and we make sure to capture the attention of the public and government din,” Jebee Kenji Solis, PEBA Chairman said.

On the other hand, Consul General Uriel Norman Garibay said the authorities are targeting expats who are working for companies, other than their sponsors.

“Ang nakikita natin sa trend na ginagawa ngayon na crackdown ang target ay yung mga expats na nagtatrabaho sa ibang kumpanya other than the sponsors, and of course yung mga walang work permit,” Garibay said.

According to the Labor Ministry, despite providing enough time to comply with their labor laws, nearly 250,000 small and medium companies are still in the "red" category or those who still failed to employ the required percentage of Saudi nationals depending on the enterprise category.

As of now, almost 2 million workers have been found to be illegal.

The consulate in Jeddah and embassy in Riyadh are closely monitoring deportation centers by sending officials to verify any case of violation and imprisonment of Filipinos.

“What we do, almost daily naman, we have officials to visit police stations, deportation, immigration centers, para ma-identify. May instruction na ako to identify kung sino ang mga affected because of this campaign. We assure them naman na we will be there to monitor and provide assistance whenever necessary,” Garibay added.

Many Filipino OFWs have also been asking about the process.

“Of course, meron process din ang immigration authorities, I think they will be investigated first, kung wala naman silang mga criminal records, na pwedeng mag delay ng kanilang repatriation, I think priority sila mapauw. Pero kung medyo meron silang problema, that will delay their repatriation," Garibay said.

The consulate also advised Filipinos to stay calm.
For information, Filipinos may call the following numbers:

In Jeddah and the region covered by the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah
Makkah Al-Mukarramah, Tabuk, Al-MMadinah, Abha, Jizan, Najran,

For the Riyadh, Hail, Qassim, Northern Border, Al-Jouf:
And the eastern region: