ABS-CBN News

20 OFWs without iqama arrested in Saudi

Posted at | Updated as of 03/18/14 6:54 PM

SAUDI ARABIA – A group of Filipino workers employed in a construction site were arrested for working without a valid iqama or residence permit in Buraidah, Qassim.

The 20 Filipinos were among the foreign workers on board three buses who were accosted by authorities for failing to present their residence permits.

Those arrested were herded into another bus and brought to a precinct.

"Pinapa-process pa daw po [iqama]... Yun ang sabi (ng employer) pinapa-process pa lang. Sabi namin bakit ang tagal naman ang process," said Bernabe Maestrado, who was one of those arrested.

The companies where most of the Filipinos have no iqamas are Emprigilo and Unicorp. The two companies and another firm, Bemco, are the sub-contractors of the Saudi bin Laden group which is constructing a government housing project near the Gassim airport.

"Sana po matulungan po ninyo kami na mabigyan po kami ng iqama. Dahil kami po'y problemado na po dito. Mabuti na lang po kami, hindi kami nakasama gawa ng nahuli po yung bus na sinasakyan namin natembrehan po noon naunang bus," said Salvador Rabulan, who also had no iqama.

Most of the Filipino workers arrived in Saudi Arabia last September 12, 2013 which already made their three-month visa invalid.

"Hindi ko po akalain na dito sa Saudi makakaranas ako ng pagkakakulong na wala naman akong kasalanan. Hindi ko po alam kung sino po ang dapat namin lapitan dito dahil narito po kami sa Saudi," said Rolando Gonzales.

Meantime, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office Central Region assured that they will drop by the workers' place to assist them.

"Anytime next week darating kami diyan," said Welfare officer Leandro Rodrigo. Report from Omar Balindong, ABS-CBN Middle East news Bureau