A nurse from Iloilo working in Saudi Arabia has been detained for a debt of a Filipina friend she helped by acting as a loan guarantor.
The 35-year-old Gerlie Rubrico of Batad, Iloilo could face imprisonment of up to two years if, as loan guarantor, she fails to pay the debt because her friend who borrowed 330,000 Saudi riyals from a Saudi doctor has left the oil-rich kingdom.
At the current exchange rate of P12 for one riyal, Rubrico has to pay P3.96 million.
Rubrico has been in detention at the Al–Malaz prison in Riyadh since Dec. 28, 2015 upon the complaint of Dr. Huda Al Abbad, her colleague in one of the hospitals at the King Fahad Medical City – the largest medical facility in Saudi Arabia.
Rubrico’s brother Jerry said Al Abbad wants his sister to pay the money that a certain Mariwasa Ulandang from Mindanao borrowed.
Rubrico acted as guarantor when Ulandang borrowed the money in 2013, said Jerry.
However, Ulandang – an undocumented overseas Filipino worker (OFW) – was deported that same year when the Saudi government started implementing its “Saudization” policy, said Jerry.
Saudization, officially known as Saudi nationalization scheme, or Nitaqat system in Arabic, is a new labor policy in the kingdom implemented by its Ministry of Labor. Saudi companies and enterprises are required to fill up their workforce with Saudi nationals up to certain levels.
“Since my sister is the loan guarantor, the doctor is demanding payment from her,” Jerry said.
Rubrico was told she could be imprisoned for up to two years for non-payment of debt and receive 52 to 56 lashes, said Jerry.
The Ilongga nurse met Ulandang at a gathering of an OFW organization in Riyadh and the two became friends, said Jerry.
But now, Ulandang could no longer be located and the Rubrico family is racing against time to raise 330,000 Saudi riyals to pay Al Abbad.
On Jan. 11, the doctor gave Rubrico a week or until Jan. 18 to pay even just 150,000 Saudi riyals so the nurse would be released, said Jerry.
A sister of Rubrico, Jeromar Rubrico Malaga who is also a nurse in Saudi, plans to plead with the doctor for an extension, said Jerry.
On Dec. 29, 2015 a day after Gerlie was detained, the Rubricos sought the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila, and specifically requested for a lawyer who could help her.
“I checked with the DFA last week. I was told by a lawyer there that the Philippine embassy in Riyadh has yet to respond,” said Jerry.
Gerlie has been working at the King Fahad Medical City for three years now.
“I pray that the Philippine embassy there could provide my sister with a lawyer. Our family, too, is doing everything we can to raise funds for her release. We’ve been in touch with relatives, friends and Gerlie’s former classmates,” said Jerry.
In his Facebook page, Jerry also appealed for help. There, he posted his BDO Kabayan Peso savings account number and phone numbers. [via Source]