19 Filipinos arrested in Saudi, says MigranteBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines—Saudi police have arrested 19 Filipino workers, including a pregnant woman, a migrants rights group said on Friday.
Migrante regional coordinator for the Middle East John Leonard Monterona said the overseas Filipino workers were arrested by Mottawa and Jawasat police during a raid in Dammam, Saudi Arabia last March 30.
Ten of them are mothers while another woman is pregnant, Monterona said in a statement.
Migrante-Saudi Arabia called on the Philippine embassy to deploy its legal team and look into the possible repatriation of the jailed Filipinos.
Monterona cited Migrante-Eastern region case officer Marcial Abay Jr.’s letter sent Tuesday to Philippines’ labor attaché Adam Musa which said that the following Filipinos have been detained in Dammam Central Jail: Willie Formalejo, Roberto Bautista, Hermoso Morales, Teodorico Orlino, Adelino Oroy, Michael Quiliza, Rey Domingo, Ronaldo Go, Genaro Valenzuela, Edna Yuson (pregnant), Aida Bautista, Maribel Jimena, Dolores Reno, Diane Cunado, Luz Palo, Apple Joy Constantino, Baby Jehad, Jheny Cayabo, Jennifer Cortiz and children.
In his letter, Abay told Musa that officials of the Philippine government or embassy have yet to visit the detainees.
Monterona said that there has been an increase in undocumented Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia. He estimated the number to be around 6,000 to 8,000.
“We are quite sure that in other mid-east countries such as Kuwait, UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, there could be thousands more undocumented,” he surmised, pointing out that their officers would receive three to five requests for assistance and repatriation from undocumented Filipinos daily.
Such OFWs were usually forced to flee from abusive employers or labor malpractices from non-payment of salaries, working more than eight hours a day without days off to having no overtime pay.
Monterona lamented that there was no government program providing undocumented overseas Filipinos security nor assistance in repatriation and legalization.