Illegal recruiters and schemes to lure victims


Jun Concepcion

Taking advantage of people desperate to take up high-paying jobs abroad is as easy as grabbing a piece of candy or lollipop from a one-year- old child and simply walking away.

It doesn’t really take much to lure people keen to escape the hardships of carving a living in our country.
High-paying jobs offered in Facebook pages, which do not require educational background and experience should raise the red flag to job seekers. Instead, these offers attract followers, with one FB page already having close to 500,000 followers.

That indicates the desperation among jobseekers who do not even ask if the ones offering the jobs have licenses to operate.

We checked a Facebook page —DSWD CASH ASSISTANCE – where job vacancy posts should raise disturbing questions to jobseekers and even to casual visitors.

A case in point is a post saying: “Canada hiring Housekeepers/Cleaners. High Salary + Benefits. No experience. No education.”

Another post: “Japan hiring food factory workers. P90k-P120k monthly salary”

The post of someone whose personal profile states that he had studied information technology at the University of La Salle, also raises questions: “Hiring farm workers for Canada. P90k-P130k a month salary. No need for education.”
Very high pay for menial jobs? Even for those with no work experience and education? Too good and incredible to be true!

But what is appalling and shocking is the fact that these posts are being taken seriously by viewers, presumably jobseekers, who simply ask how they can pursue job applications.

Viewers who respond to the job posts never bother asking if those who posted job vacancies have licenses from the POEA to offer overseas jobs and deploy jobseekers to jobs abroad.

Jobseekers should realize that job offers are possible scams in the absence of POEA overseas deployment licenses.
But shockingly and inexplicably, they appear oblivious of this most fundamental and basic rule.

And what’s more shocking is the “DWSD CASH ASSISTANCE” FB page has attracted more than 425,000 members.
Another FB group – 4P’S AT DSWD CASH ASSISTANCE HELP GROUP – has 346,000 members. It operates very much like the “DSWD CASH ASSISTANCE” FB group.

What should the POEA, which is principally tasked to stamp out illegal recruitment, do? The following, in my view, can go a very long way in fighting illegal recruiters:

1] POEA should set up even a small social media anti-illegal recruitment unit

What should this unit do? Members should surf Facebook regularly, identify illegal recruitment schemes and their perpetrators, ask FB to shut down these accounts and actively liaise with barangay, NBI and police officers to chase after and prosecute identified illegal recruiters.

2] POEA should make this social media action team a permanent fixture of its battle against illegal recruitment
Since Facebook is used regularly by jobseekers and illegal recruiters, the POEA should have a dedicated social media team to fight online illegal recruitment.

3] POEA should sustain the operations of its social media team

To motivate team members, rewards in cash or in kind should be offered to members who successfully bust illegal recruiters.

4] POEA should sustain its campaign against illegal recruiters

To deter illegal recruiters and others with plans to engage in this nefarious trade, press releases should be issued again and again on Facebook, other social media and in traditional media about enforcement actions. Unless this is done, culprits will assume that the POEA lacks commitment to fight against illegal recruiters.

5] POEA should consider using a high-profile, name-and-shame campaign against notorious illegal recruiters
Since the wheels of justice in the country often grind exceedingly slow, many illegal recruiters get away without getting prosecuted and punished. And since reforming the justice system will likely take decades, it is high time to do away with legal niceties and further stiffen the fight against illegal recruiters. For instance, culprits who are subject of complaints of 10 or more alleged victims, should be immediately detained and charged with syndicated estafa since illegal recruitment is often perpetrated by several people. And instead of changing the law on this via lengthy Congressional action, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello should simply ask President Duterte to issue an executive order that will classify as syndicated estafa acts of illegal recruitment. If this route is taken, this will resolve a long-pestering problem that bedevils those who wish to work abroad.

Much tougher actions against illegal recruiters are in order in view of the brazenness of their operations.

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