Alonto dismisses video of displaced OFWs scavenging for food as ‘theatrics’

Published June 19, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Roy Mabasa

Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto on Friday dismissed as mere “theatrics” the video footage showing a group of overseas Filipinos in Riyadh scavenging for food from the garbage to survive after reportedly being displaced by the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.

Ambassador Adnan Alonto (DFA / MANILA BULLETIN)
Ambassador Adnan Alonto

“If reports reaching me are true, I’m disappointed with some of our people who have resorted to theatrics to catch attention. Fact is food assistance was given. Mamulot ng basura? (To pick garbage?) C’mon!” Alonto said in a tweet.

The video footage showing several OFWs scavenging for food while seeking Philippine government assistance made the news headlines this week, prompting the Department of Labor and Employment to order their immediate repatriation.

When asked if the video was merely made up, Alonto insisted that it was merely “theatrics” to catch attention.

“Theatrics nga (It’s really theatrics). The fact is, food assistance was given. Repatriation is the goal. Well, exit visas need to be granted and more flights needed. That’s the truth. We are on it. Sana walang drama (There should be no drama),” the Philippine envoy told this reporter in a Twitter exchange.

Earlier, Labor Attache to Riyadh Nasser Mustafa said the company of the 12 affected workers agreed to discuss their evacuation, including 280 of its Filipino staff who also sought to return to the Philippines.

“What we are negotiating now, because I have all their (workers’) names and what they need, is how they will go home, so we are negotiating with the company,” Mustafa told CNN Philippines.

To prove that they have extended help to the said OFWs, Mustafa shared in a video conference where he had reached out to the Filipino workers in the video and provided them food and money.

To date, the Embassy and the Philippine labor office in Saudi Arabia have been swamped with requests from thousands of displaced OFWs in the Kingdom for the US$200 financial assistance under the DOLE’s Akap program.