Avoid wearing “protests signs’ in Arab countries, group warns OFWs

A FILIPINO migrants group warned  OFWs Tuesday not to gather ,act  and wear something that would give authorities to suspect of ‘instigating protests’ to avoid arrest in Arab countries.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, issued that warning after Saudi police apprehended a number of OFWs allegedly gathering in Batha, one of Riyadh’ commercial district and where OFWs usually converge.

Monterona said he  received an email from a fellow OFW  saying that his co-worker and other fellow OFWs have been apprehended by local police in Riyadh due to posted Philippine flag stickers at the back of their cars.

“Accordingly, their Istemara (driver’s licensed) has been confiscated and a SR. 2,000 fine has been imposed against them,” Monteronasaid.

Monterona also said another report reaching him, which Migrante is still verifying,  in Riyadh, five fellow OFWs, 2 of them wearing T-shirts with embroidered Philippine flag have been questioned by the local police on suspicion of instigating a protest.

“Understandably, local authorities could easily pinpoint us, OFWs, because they could easily associate us with EDSA People Power, which anniversary the Filipino nation is celebrating starting today,” Monterona averred.

Monterona said: “Stricter immigration rules and policies are expected to be implemented by other Arab governments to get control of their own internal peace and order situation amid the massive protests in Bahrain, Yemen, and Libya. Even European governments are expected to follow suit.”

On February 14, the PH embassy in Riyadh, issued an advisory citing a note verbal issued by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs regulating certain activities that are to be allowed by the host government providing certain requirement must be complied first before issuance of permits.

“Let me clarify we are issuing this statement to warn or advise our fellow OFWs in the Kingdom to avoid doing anything or acting, or even wearing clothes, etc.. that could be conceived as if we are instigating protest or waging protests,” Monterona added.

” OFWs have nothing to do with the protests sweeping other Arab countries like Bahrain, Yemen, and Libya, ‘though OFWs have been adversely affected in Bahrain, Yemen, and Libya and express fears for their safety,” he said.-D’Jay Lazaro

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