A Catholic bishop in the Philippines has demanded the prosecution of those behind reported auctions of Filipino maids by employers in Saudi Arabia.
Bishop Ruperto Santos, head of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said it is a “crime that should be condemned” and “the perpetrators should be severely punished.”
Philippine Senator Leila de Lima recently revealed that “maid auctions” involving Filipino domestic workers in Saudi Arabia have been going on for several years.
Bishop Santos said workers should not be treated as commodities. “They are not tools for profit or pleasure. They are persons with rights and dignity,” he said.
He said the Philippine government should immediately lodge a diplomatic protest and facilitate the prosecution of those involved in “these shameful and sinful auctions.”
The prelate said it might also be “high time for the government to discuss and decide” if Filipino workers should be banned from going to Saudi Arabia.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Filipino workers having a hard time in Saudi Arabia should seek opportunities elsewhere or go back home.
He said the government may ban the deployment of Filipino maids to the kingdom if it cannot impose protective mechanisms to ensure workers’ safety.
Last year, the Philippine government brought home about 13,000 migrant workers from Saudi Arabia as part of massive repatriation efforts.
Saudi Arabia continues to be the leading destination for Filipino migrant workers. About one in every four or 23.8 percent of Filipino migrants worked in Saudi Arabia last year.