Poverty pushes ‘willing victims’ to illegal recruitment – DOLE-9 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 18 January 2015 14:27

“Many Filipinos still fall victims to illegal recruitment,” said Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Director Sisinio Cano in a press conference held here recently.

“Hirap pa rin ang ating bansa (our country is still poor),” he said explaining that poverty drives people to easily be potential victims.

In spite of several government-led advocacy drives against illegal recruitment and human trafficking warning people of the repercussions, many are still victimized. “There are willing victims,” Cano pointed out, adding that their optimism to earn possibly more than they can locally is what drives them to take the risk.

Only this month here in the city the authorities have rescued four people allegedly illegally recruited from Cagayan de Oro City to work as bar girls. However, the suspects are now being held by the local police.

Thousands have already fallen victims to illegal recruitment and human trafficking, and the city has been used as a jump-off point by many recruiters. Reports say that the victims come from other provinces, cities and municipalities not only in Mindanao but in Luzon and Visayas as well.

Stories from the victims themselves - including women and minors - reveal the inhumane treatment they receive from the “employers.” Many of the victims were brought to Malaysia and from there to other countries as far as the Middle East. Many women have reportedly been made as sex slaves.

The Philippines has retained its Tier 2 status for the last four years in the Global Trafficking in Persons (GTIP) Report issued by the United States Department of State in 2014. This essentially means that human trafficking is present in spite of government efforts to make significant effort in complying with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). A country with a Tier 2 status receives millions of dollars’ worth of non-humanitarian and non-military aid to address human trafficking.

“The national and the local government units are doing their best to address illegal recruitment,” Cano shared, citing several strategies including advocacies and information made available to the public. Agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and many others have teamed up to address illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

Meanwhile, to avoid being victims, Cano urged the job-seeking public to verify if the recruiters are licensed and registered at the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA).

“The POEA has a website, and people can immediately verify and see if a certain recruiter is listed there,” he said, pointing out that “if the recruiter is not in the list, then his status is questionable.”

Interested jobseekers may log on to www.poea.gov.ph for more information. — DIS/PIA9-Zamboanga City