The health crisis, which the whole world is experiencing right now, has left hundreds and thousands of people jobless in various parts of the world, including places such as Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which has one of the highest concentrations of OFWs in the world.
Under normal situations, OFWs are working to the bone to keep themselves afloat and to support their families back in the Philippines. However, the current situation has left many of these workers without a choice but to depend on the relief and support from government agencies in their host countries.
DFA Urges OFWs in Saudi to Exercise Caution When Posting on Social Media
A few weeks ago, a video has made rounds on social media and has since become viral, as it shows several OFWs in Riyadh scavenging after their livelihoods were affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Since then, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has been monitoring the situation and a top-rank official has cautioned Filipino migrant workers, especially in Saudi Arabia, against sharing social media posts that could “ruin the reputation” of their employers, saying that the Middle Eastern country is “very strict” with cyber libel.
According to FA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola, this has led to the arrest of one overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Riyadh, who was seen with other OFWs scavenging for food in garbage bins in the now-viral video.
In line with this, the arrested OFWs also reportedly claimed that they have not been receiving their salaries from their company in recent months.
Commenting on this, Arriola shared, “I’ve been monitoring social media and there’s a lot of debates. I think one of the people who posted the video was already arrested.”
Before this situation escalated, Arriola said that she has initiated an independent investigation on the matter, which showed that the video was “instigated” and “staged.”
When asked by senators to clarify, Arriola said, “The OFWs…were asked to go to the garbage bins, it was staged.”
Regarding the situation of OFWs in Riyadh, she cited information reaching her office that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) have already extended welfare assistance to the workers “for five or six times.”
Nevertheless, Arriola acknowledged that the foreign posts in Saudi Arabia are faced with problems amid the pandemic.
“We are not denying that there is a crisis. And there’s really a problem. The jurisdiction of Riyadh and the Philippine Embassy is very huge because it (Riyadh) is bigger than the Philippines,” she clarified.
And in line with the issue leading to the arrest of the OFWs involved in the viral video, Arriola reminded OFWs, especially in Saudi Arabia, to be careful when they post on social media posts because it is illegal to tarnish the reputation of the corporation they’re working for under the Kingdom’s strict cyber libel laws.