Illegal Activities of a ‘Few’ Tainting Good Reputation of Filipinos: Riyadh Leaders
By: , Arab News: 5/7/2006
JEDDAH, 7 May 2006 — A group of community leaders in Riyadh wants to take exception to suggestions that Filipinos in the Kingdom are engaged in various illegal activities.
In an open letter to Saudi authorities and fellow Filipinos, the group led by the OFW Congress said that a “vast majority” of their compatriots continue to abide by local laws and to work hard.
“We convey the firm resolve of our fellow OFWs to remain fully cognizant and to have deep respect for the laws, customs and traditions of our friendly host and to promote better understanding and closer relations between the Filipino community and the Islamic world, particularly in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said the manifesto signed by representatives of various groups.
The manifesto was discussed during a recent meeting attended by officials of the Philippine Embassy, OFW Congress Chairman Alex Veloso Bello told Arab News.
Dozens of Filipinos were rounded up in Jeddah and Madinah last month for crimes including murder, gambling and gold theft.
Seven Filipinos have been charged with murder in the sensational “chop-chop” killings of three compatriots in Jeddah.
Police said the victims — a gambling lord, an assistant and his driver — were killed by a rival gang. The bodies of the victims were then cut into pieces and scattered across the Industrial area in southern Jeddah.
Two of the suspects confessed to the killings and even showed investigators where the bodies were hidden, said police.
Several other Filipinos who were among those picked up by police in connection with the “chop-chop” case have been charged either with money laundering, gambling and manufacturing liquor.
At least 19 Filipino employees of Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) have also been charged with theft by the police for allegedly stealing gold from the company’s mine in Madinah province.
Bello said he and other community leaders decided to issue a manifesto so as not to allow the “acts of a few” to taint the good reputation earned by tens of thousands of other Filipinos in the Kingdom in the past decades. “We denounce such activities of a few individual OFWs, if actually proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, as contrary to the much larger and lasting relations of the Filipino community with the Saudi society…,” said the manifesto.
Another manifesto being passed among community leaders in Jeddah assured the people of Saudi Arabia that the majority of Filipinos in the Kingdom do not countenance the illegal acts of others.
The manifesto said Filipinos believe that the arrests made by the police were “directed against criminal activities and not against the Filipino community itself.”
Some community leaders said it was hurting to hear comments from other expatriates that Filipinos were involved in all kinds of illegal activities. Others said they have heard encouraging remarks from Saudis.
“My own boss told me that in every community or society, there are always bad eggs,” a bank clerk told Arab News.