By Jun Ramirez
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) warned Filipinos wanting to work abroad against unscrupulous persons using the Internet and social media to recruit overseas workers.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the warning after learning that many human trafficking and illegal recruitment victims intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were recruited by syndicates offering their services via Facebook and social networking sites.
“We reiterate our warning to our kababayan that they should avoid transacting with strangers online offering high-paying jobs in foreign lands without the benefit of protection from government. You will only be putting yourselves in harm’s way,” the BI chief said in a statement.
Morente said overseas job seekers can always access the website of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) or visit its office to look for legitimate job openings and avail the services of licensed or accredited recruitment agencies.
“Do not deal with unlicensed recruiters as they cannot guarantee your safety, good working conditions, and salaries according to industry standards. Chances are you will be intercepted at our ports if you avail the services of fraudsters and illegal recruiters,” Morente added.
This developed as BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina reported the recent interception of four females who were allegedly recruited to work as household service workers in Dubai, that attempted to depart disguised as tourists bound for Singapore and Malaysia at the NAIA.
Medina said the victims, who were intercepted on Nov. 9 and 10, all admitted that they met their recruiters through Facebook and that it was the latter who processed their visas and employment papers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“As in the case of many ‘tourist’ workers intercepted at our ports, these women all had UAE visas in their possession which they hid in their bags as instructed by their handlers,” Ma. Timotea Barizo, head of the BI travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) said.
Barizo added that the passengers’ flight to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur were mere fronts as they concealed their itineraries and planned to board their connecting flights to UAE.
She added that the four were immediately turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance and further investigation.