DFA warns OFWs in Saudi Arabia: ‘Be careful with your social media posts’

By: Christia Marie Ramos – Reporter / @CMRamosINQ

A Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) 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.

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said this Wednesday following the supposed arrest of one overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Riyadh, who was seen with other OFWs scavenging for food in garbage bins in a now-viral video.

The OFWs also reportedly alleged that they have not been receiving salary from their company in recent months.

“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,” Arriola said but did not elaborate.

Before this, Arriola said she initiated an independent investigation on the matter, which showed that the video was “instigated” and “staged.”

“The OFWs…were asked to go to the garbage bins, it was staged,” she told senators when asked to clarify the issue.

Citing information reaching her office, the DFA official noted that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office have already extended welfare assistance to the workers “for five or six times.”

Nevertheless, Arriola acknowledged that there are problems being faced by the Philippines’ foreign posts in Saudi Arabia 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 added.

“We just want to tell our Filipinos, especially in Saudi Arabia, that please be careful with your social media posts because you cannot ruin the reputation of the corporation you’re working for because they are very strict with cyber libel,” Arriola also said.

According to DFA, there are around 800,000 Filipinos in Saudi Arabia.

Arriola, meanwhile, suggested to the labor committee that it could invite the OFWs involved in the viral clip as well as Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto, who earlier branded the clip as “theatrics,” in the next hearing to air their side.

“I think it would best for them to speak about it,” she added.

KGA

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