Envoy says OFWs scouring garbage in Saudi “resorted to theatrics”

Image screenshot from ABS-CBN YT video
  • PH envoy in Saudi dismissed the video of scavenging OFWs as ‘theatrics’
  • The OFWs, however, maintained they are not engaging in theatrics to catch attention
  • A migrant group in Saudi called on DFA to recall the envoy

The Philippine envoy to Saudi Arabia has accused the displaced OFWs in a viral video rummaging through dumpsters of resorting to theatrics “to catch attention”.

In a tweet last Friday, Philippine Ambassador Adnan Alonto expressed his doubts on the veracity of the report after the video went viral on social media.

Image screenshot from Amb. Alonto’s tweet

“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 (scouring for garbage)? C’mon!” the envoy said.

Asked by netizens whether the story was made up by the Riyadh-based Filipino workers, Alonto reiterated it could just be for ‘theatrics’ since food assistance has already been given.

“Theatrics nga. The fact is food assistance was given. Repetition [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,” Alonto replied. [I hope no more dramas]

OFWs in Riyadh check trash for food after losing their jobs, receive help from goodhearted people

But Louie Perez, one of the affected OFWs, maintained they are not engaging in theatrics to catch attention.

“Truth is, we do not have anything to eat. That is why we would wait for the garbage being thrown by supermarkets and would get the vegetables that are still edible,” said Perez.

Image screenshot from Amb. Alonto’s tweet

A migrant group in Saudi also criticized Alonto for dismissing the plight of OFWs as ‘theatrics’ and challenged the envoy to try to live for three months with only one-time assistance so he would know that the workers scavenging for food are not merely engaging in theatrics to catch public attention.

“Ambassador Alonto should check his privilege. He can say what he said because he still has his job and continues to receive his huge salary,” Migrante–KSA chair Marlon Gatdula told GMA News.

The group also called on Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., to recall Alonto.

The viral video: