Saudi Arabia releases OFWs arrested in Halloween party raid

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Saudi Arabia releases OFWs arrested in Halloween party raid
(UPDATED) The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs reminds overseas Filipino workers 'to respect the laws and traditions of their host countries'

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Saudi Arabia agreed to temporarily release 19 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) arrested in a raid at a Halloween party in Riyadh, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced late Tuesday afternoon, October 30.

The 19 OFWs will be released to the custody of the Philippine embassy in Riyadh, the DFA said. 

The DFA earlier gave a lower number of OFWs arrested in the Halloween party raid. The agency said on Monday, October 29, that 17 Filipinas were arrested in Saudi Arabia “for taking part in a Halloween party there.”

The OFWs were held at the Al Nisa Jail in Riyadh. They were reportedly arrested on Friday, October 26.

Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto said Saudi intelligence operatives took custody of “a number of persons,” including the Filipinas, when they raided a Riyadh compound where a Halloween party was happening. 

Alonto said the decision to temporarily release the OFWs “was made possible because of the strong representations made by the Embassy with Saudi authorities.”

Alonto added that “authorities may file charges against the Filipinos for violating Shari’a law, which prohibits interaction especially in public among unattached men and women.” 

The DFA said Saudi operatives raided the compound “after neighbors complained of loud noise from the party.”

The DFA reminded OFWs, particularly those in the Middle East, “to respect the laws and traditions of their host countries.” – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com