JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — A Philippine official here on Monday allayed fears by Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia that the arrest of a supposed Filipina there over her alleged role in making suicide vests will affect their reputations.
According to Consul General Imelda Panolong, Saudi nationals continue to respect and trust Filipino workers despite the arrest of the woman identified as Lady Gioi Aban Bali Nang, who was nabbed with a Syrian identified as Mohamed al-Barazi over the weekend.
"Maganda ang image, maganda ang reputation ng mga Pilipino dito sa Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, wala akong nakikitang dahilan para mangamba tayo," Panolong said.
Panolong made the statement after several OFWs in Saudi Arabia said they are worried about the possible effect on them of the arrest of the supposed Filipina.
“Akoy nalulungkot may isang Pilipina na na-involve sa isang gawain ng terorista," said Russel Labios, a CT Scan techonologist in a hospital here. "Sa tingin ko malaking dagok ito sa ating mga kababayan sa Saudi Arabia kasi ang maaaring ang tingin na rin sa atin pag nalalakad tayo sa daan ay terorista sa ganitong pangyayari."
Another OFW said fears of a crackdown on Filipinos in the Kingdom.
"Nakakatakot po lalo na sa amin na bago kaming nagtatrabaho dito sa Saudi. Mahirap po ang magiging sitwasyon namin na baka kami po ay pag-initan din," he said.
Panolong, meanwhile, appealed to Filipinos in Saudi Arabia to be mindful of their host country's culture and laws.
"Ang mahalaga diyan sumunod tayo lagi sa mga alituntunin, sa batas na nilalabas ng Kingdom. As long as wala tayong ginagawang masama, sumusunod tayo sa batas, wala tayong dapat ipangamba," she said.
In Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it has yet to confirm if the woman arrested in Saudi Arabia is a Filipina.
DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia was still trying to get a permission to personally talk with the arrested woman.
"Gusto nilang makita ang papeles ng Filipina na ito para matiyak ang detalye. Gusto nilang makita at makausap itong alleged Filipina," he said.
Jose said as soon as the woman's nationality is confirmed, the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia will provide her with appropriate legal assistance. —Ronaldo Concha/KBK, GMA News