A group of OFWs are currently unjustly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia in Cel# 6 Simisi Main Office of Jawasat because their employer had failed to process their eqama (work permit).
The OFWs, a team of automobile designers headed by Enrico Salgado Luga (tsikot nick â€“ ehnriko), was originally recruited by their employer to design and build a truck, a first for Saudi Arabia. They initially arrived there last August 30, 2006 for a six month contract and proceeded to work for their employer.
The employer was initially kind to the team and paid their salaries on time. However he apparently soon encountered financial difficulties as project components werenâ€t procured promptly, causing significant delay. The team consequently had to extend their stay. However he gradually started delaying payment of their salaries as well and has not paid them for the last seven months. Moreover, their working hours were also extended to the point they hardly were given time off to rest.
Unbeknownst to them, the employer also never processed the extension of their work permits even though he has asked them to submit all their documents to him. Thus on December 11, 2007, to their surprise, the Saudi Police raided their workplace and arrested those present for working without an eqama (work permit). Two of the men, Ben Sangalang and Silbin Pongos, were fortunately not at the premises and managed to avoid arrest.
The rest of the team,
1. Enrico Salgado Luga
2. Redentor Padua
3. Ronelo Jaime
4. Ignacio Holasca Jr
5. Shams Tabrez Comred (Egyptian)
were arrested and jailed.
The employer promised to bail them out within 3 days but only Mr. Luga was bailed out and only after six days. The rest are still incarcerated in an unsanitary, congested jail without clean clothes, beds, pillows nor medicine for the various diseases they have since contracted. Their health conditions continue to deteriorate due to the inhumane jail conditions.
These men are ordinary automobile designers trying to earn a decent living overseas, given the lack of opportunities here in our own country. They are neither criminals nor fugitives. That they were working without an eqama is clearly the fault of their employer. Yet they are the ones being punished while their saudi arabian employer walks free.
Note: The identity of the employer has been withheld in this letter per the request of ehnriko for fear of possible additional retribution in the event their situation becomes widely-known via the Internet.
As much as the men are hoping our government will help them they are also realistic. Theirs is not the first case of injustice done to an OFW. Certainly it wonâ€t be the last. But for the families of these men, what matters is that these men are able to back home safely and hopefully be with their respective families this holiday season.
Some of the tsikoteers have been working behind the scene by contacting resource persons to help get them out. In fact, Mon Tulfo had interceded on their behalf by contacting the Philippine embassy in Riyadh, only to be told our government can not officially act until January 5 because of the various holidays both here and in Saudi Arabia.
In the meantime, the men are languishing in jail without medication or sufficient food. While ehnriko has been bailed out and is presently staying with a friend, he is without any money (for food or medication). He is still in Riyadh simply because he feels responsible for them, having personally recruited them for the project there. At this point all of them desperately need our help.
We would like to appeal to our fellow tsikoteers, especially to those who are based in Saudi Arabia, to offer whatever kind of assistance they can provide – financial, medical, food, etc. â€“ to the team.
For those who may have physical access to the team in Riyadh you may contact the men directly through their mobile phones. Note only ehnriko is a tsikoteer. He is also the team leader, so it may be best to contact him. Just identify yourself as a tsikoteer.
Enrico S. Luga (ehnriko) – +966563783679
Redentor Padua – +966560236930
Ronelo Jaime – +966564332027
For other tsikoteers who would like to help kindly contact Jedi of tsikot.com directly at 63905-333-8-777. Any help will greatly be appreciated.
In the interim, we also ask you to please spread their story so that we can pressure our government to help them. Hopefully we can also, via on-line forums, email groups, and blogs, manage to bring our collective voice to the international forefront so that the Saudi Arabian government will rectify the situation. (If you intend to pass this along, please add the http://tsikot.yehey.com/forums/showthread.php?t=45882 URL for this thread.)
And if you would like to help or provide any other suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me, Elaine Manalaysay Luga, wife of Enrico Luga at +63.46.515.1609 or +63.919.705.7720. You can also email or YM me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of ehnriko and his team, maraming salamat po.
Elaine Manalaysay Luga