Manila - Thirty Filipino workers expelled from Saudi
Arabia returned home on Monday and alleged they were abused amid a crackdown on
illegal migrants there.
They were among an estimated 6 700 Filipino workers
stranded in parts of the oil-rich Middle Eastern kingdom, where an amnesty for
undocumented foreigners ended over the weekend.
"They treated us like animals," said domestic
helper Amor Roxas, 46, who burst in tears while narrating her ordeal.
She claimed Saudi police rounded them up and placed them
in a crowded cell for four days before they were paraded from the immigration
centre to the airport.
"Our feet were chained," added Yvonne Montefeo,
32, in between sobs.
Saudi Arabian embassy officials in Manila did not want to
comment on the allegation of abuse.
Migrante International, a support group for Filipino
overseas workers, said 1 700 other workers remained stranded in Jeddah waiting
for their documents to be processed so they can return home while about 5 000
more were scattered in Riyadh, Al Khobar and Dammam and also needing consular
It warned that the Filipinos "are in danger of being
violently dispersed, arrested and detained by Saudi authorities" as the
kingdom implements its crackdown.
The Filipinos are among tens of thousands of mostly Asian
unskilled workers likely to be expelled, the group said.
deadline to be extended
Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is also presidential
adviser on migrant affairs, last week appealed to the Saudi government to
extend its deadline, noting that "thousands are still hoping to correct their
"Due to the large number of Filipino workers seeking
correction of their employment status, many of them may not be able to meet the
3 November deadline," he said in a letter to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
Al Saud last week.
The crackdown started early this year, but the Saudi
government offered an amnesty to allow the workers to legalise their stay.
Binay said more than 4 000 Filipinos had been repatriated
since the crackdown was announced, while 1 716 are waiting for their exit
documents to be processed even as the deadline expired on Sunday.
About a tenth of the Philippines' population live and
work abroad, and their dollar remittances are a vital pillar of the economy.
A vast majority of them work as unskilled labourers or
maids, and are exposed to situations where they are prone to abuse.