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SAUDI ARABIA: 12 Filipinos arrested for proselytizing out on bail

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RIYADH: Twelve Filipinos and a Catholic priest have been released on bail in Riyadh after being arrested at a rest house in the city’s Rawdah district last Friday.

The arrests followed a raid by members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice on the premises,  where 150 expatriates were said to have attended a Catholic mass.

However, a source told Arab News that only the priest and the 12 Filipinos were arrested for allegedly being the organizers and leaders of the group while the others were let go because they could not all be accommodated at the police station.

“They were charged with proselytizing,” confirmed Ezzedin H. Tago, chargé d'affaires at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.

According to the source, the priest was the first to be released when his embassy provided a kafala, or written guarantee. By Sunday, 11 of the Filipinos had been released through kafalas issued by their employers.

A kafala, which can be issued by an embassy, a Saudi national or an employer, is an undertaking that an arrested person will appear if and when needed by the authorities.

Tago told Arab News that two diplomats had been sent to Rawdah police station to assist the 12 detained Filipinos before they were released on bail. The two embassy officials explained to them that the issuance of a kafala might mean only a temporary liberty for them.

"It did not mean that their case had been settled. If they are proven guilty as charged, they would go back to jail," the source said.

The remaining OFW, reportedly a doctor, was subsequently released on bail.