Pastor in Cebu nabbed for illegal recruitment

Published June 16, 2021, 3:21 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY – A 53-year-old pastor was arrested on Thursday, June 10, here for alleged illegal recruitment.

The suspect, Bernardo Albarando, who is reportedly a pastor of a religious congregation called “Things to Come Mission,” was arrested in an entrapment operation by the National Bureau of Investigation-Central Visayas (NBI Region 7) in a mall in Barangay Banilad here.

NBI Region 7 Director Renan Oliva said three complainants, who are members of the congregation, showed up in their office to complain that the suspect promised to help them work in New Zealand as factory workers.

“They were asked to pay P35,000 each as placement fee. In return, they were promised that they will be able to work in New Zealand with a monthly salary of 5,200 NZD dollars or equivalent to P178,000,” said Oliva.

Oliva said the scam was discovered when the complainants checked with the company through e-mail in which they were told that no one was authorized to recruit workers in the company’s behalf.

Upon receiving the complaints, the NBI Region 7 checked with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) Region 7 and found out that the suspect is an illegal recruiter.

“What we did was we verified with the POEA and they certified that this Bernardo Albarando, in his personal capacity, is not authorized by the POEA to recruit workers for overseas employment,” said Oliva.

One of the victims said that they trusted the suspect as he was the pastor of their congregation and they thought that the offer to work abroad was legitimate after he asked them to choose their preferred jobs in New Zealand.

“We were told that his sibling is already in New Zealand and was able to work just a few months after processing his papers,” the complainant said.

The complainant added that he sought the help of his relatives so he could gather the P150,000 needed for the processing of his papers.

The suspect refused to comment on the arrest.

The NBI Region 7 said the suspect committed a large scale illegal recruitment which is punishable under Republic Act (RA) No. 8042 as amended by RA 10022 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.

Charges for estafa will also be filed against the suspect, the NBI Region 7 said.