Sixty of the 203 detained Filipino workers in the Western Region of Saudi Arabia are facing drug-related cases, according to the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah.
In an exclusive interview with GMA News, Consul General Imelda Panolong said the Filipinos are facing charges for smuggling, selling and using illegal drugs. She said some of these Filipinos have already been sentenced while others are still facing trial.
She said the number seems to be increasing throughout the years.
"Nung nandito ako 15 years ago hindi drugs ang pinakamaraming kaso natin na nade-detain na mga kababayan natin, pero sa ngayon as of September 2015, majority ng ating mga detainees kung sa percentage titingnan natin almost 30 percent ng mga cases na hina-handle natin ngayon involving illegal drugs ang total ay 60 overseas Filipino workers ang mga nakakulong sama-sama na dito ang serving sentence, awaiting trial at saka 'yung ongoing na ang trial," said Panolong.
Those sentenced include one ready for deportation and one who was meted with the death sentence, Panolong said, adding they are already appealing the death sentence.
Saudi Arabia's Western Region covers the areas of Jeddah, Yanbu, Madinah, Taif, Mecca, Jizan, Nagran, Abha and Tabuk.
Panolong said it would take weeks for Saudi authorities to inform them that a Filipino was arrested over illegal drugs.
Aside from drug-related cases, many Filipinos were also detained in Saudi Arabia's Western Region over charges of immorality and robbery/theft.
Panolong said eight were facing charges of embezzlement.
According to Vice Consul Alexander Estomo, head of the Assistance to National Section, most convicted Filipinos were given jailtime of one to five years, while some got a 10-year jail sentence, depending on the gravity of the offense. Others were also caned.
Red Bual, deputy director of the OFW Council of Leaders, appealed to fellow Filipinos in Saudi Arabia — as well as those in other countries — to always follow their host country's laws and respect its cultures.
"Mga kabayan, imulat niyo mga mata niyo na hindi ito Pilipinas kung kayo ay magdusa dito sa bansang ating pinagtatrabahuhan kawawa ang pamilya noyo, kawawa kayo sira ang kinabukasan nyo," he said.
"Laging sumunod sa patakaran ng mga bansang kinaroroonan nila at lumayo, umiwas lalo pa't pag may napapansin sila sa mga ganoong grupo at huwag na silang makisalamuha," Bual added. —KBK, GMA News