Duterte to Penalize Illegal Recruiters

An infuriated President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in his speech during the Manila Times 7th Business Forum at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City on February 9, 2018, shows photos of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were reportedly abused in Kuwait. - Jay A. Lozano/Presidential Photo

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered the  various line agencies involved in the recruitment of  workers to stop the illegal activities, as he warned to prosecute illegal recruiters.

Citing the dangers awaiting the illegally recruited workers abroad, Duterte on  Friday night, February 9, ordered the  Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Immigration (BI), and other law enforcement agencies, including the Philippine Coast Guard to go the extra mile to stop illegal recruitment or sending undocumented Filipinos to work abroad.

Illegal recruitment activities are usually conducted in the remote areas by enterprising individuals claiming to be representatives of recruitment agencies which are based in big cities.

Duterte said the trade has been there for so long because some recruitment agencies are in cahoots with officials of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),  immigration and police personnel.

Celine, 32, mother of four and a resident of North Cotabato was able to sneak out of the country to work as domestic helper in the Middle East in 2014, but was often beaten by her employer whenever she fell asleep before the last house member arrived home, usually during dawn.

Celine did not report her plight to the embassy or the consular office.  Her policeman brother advised her to just go home after he learned that his sister was illegally recruited and that the government does not have the official record of her travel.   She went home with fractured arms.

“I endured for two years.  I cannot complain because I learned I was a victim of illegal recruiter when I was about to leave the country, I saw my tourist visa, then I started to fear, but I was helpless. I had my ticket and I have to go because my family has loaned money from the money lender for my trip,” Celine narrated.

 She worked as household worker and a tutor at the same time.  Before working overseas, Celine was a teacher.

Duterte said many of the OFWs who are awaiting their repatriation are victims of illegal recruiters, this prompted him to order the police, immigration officials and the labor officials to run after the illegal recruiters and spare no mercy.

President Rodrigo Duterte asked Kuwaiti government “All I ask for our Overseasa Filipino Workers, is that their dignity is honoured and their human rights, upheld and respected.”

“I’d like to see to it that, either back or front door, I would like to task the Philippine National Police, nandito ‘yung ating regional commander (our regional commander is here) (BI Commissioner Jaime) Morente, he has to walk the extra mile… the NBI, Coast Guard and lalo na ‘yung component sa mga pantalan, but usually sa eroplano ‘yan (especially the components in the ports, but usually at airports),” Duterte said.

He will also hold responsible the Department of Labor or the agency responsible for giving permits to recruiters if there are Filipinos sent to work abroad illegally and abused by their employers.

“I want all of them, connected already by this time, arrested and placed behind bars, to face charges,” the President said, adding that he will order Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to issue the order

“It’s a continuing crime. I will not go to a specific visa or passport that was issued with their intervention,” he said.

Duterte vowed to prosecute illegal recruiters.

“If they are into it, kasi (because) it’s a continuing crime and we will have them arrested and detained without bail. Non-bailable ang nag i-illegal recruitment (Illegal recruitment is non-bailable),” he said.

Despite the order, Duterte failed to call the attention of the POEA to review all recruitment agencies they issued accreditation.

Many recruitment agencies operate without  POEA license and they thrive in the remote areas because people does not have the access to determine their legitimacy. -Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph

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