Hontiveros: Human trafficking syndicates illegally recruiting Filipinos in Cambodia

Similar to the human trafficking cases in Myanmar, Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday, January 18 said that some Filipinos are also being illegally recruited to work as crypto-scammers in Cambodia.

Hontiveros disclosed that Filipinos are being illegally recruited to work in Cambodia and forced to work as a scammer, luring citizens from countries like the US and Canada to invest in cryptocurrencies.

According to the senator, the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were also made into forced laborers by a Chinese mafia in Cambodia.

“Filipinos are becoming the main target of human trafficking syndicates. After we helped some Filipinos in Myanmar who were also abused and forced to work as crypto-scammer, we now learn of a similar modus in Cambodia,” Hontiveros said.

“These fraud factories are part of a disturbing industry that has to be dismantled,” the senator said.

Hontiveros said one of the victims, Miles, reached out to her to seek assistance as there are other Filipinos who need rescue in Cambodia.

Based on Miles’ testimony, they were promised customer service or call center jobs. But just as the senator learned from the victims from Myanmar, the OFWs in Cambodia also ended up being forced to dupe citizens from countries like the US and Canada of their life savings.

“When you don't get a client, what is done is, (we) are made to work for more than 16 hours, without sleep, seven (7) days a week... I have seen and heard of a fellow employee being electrocuted,” Miles narrated in Filipino in a video shared by the senator’s office.

Similar to the victims in Myanmar, Miles said she was trafficked out of NAIA and into Thailand and was made to ride a van going to Cambodia. The other victims, according to her, flew out from Clark Airport in Pampanga and into Cambodia or from Zamboanga and into Malaysia or other ASEAN countries before travelling to Cambodia.

Miles was part of a group of Filipinos who was rescued Monday night by Cambodian police authorities, through the efforts of the Philippine embassy in Phnom Penh.

Hontiveros has asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to work for their immediate repatriation since as of Tuesday night, they are being held at a police station without beds and basic facilities.

“I trust that our DFA can bring our kababayans home as soon as possible. I also expect that we keep closely working with ASEAN member-states to strategize how to effectively put a lid on these criminal activities. It is unacceptable that this devastating scheme keeps roping in our hardworking men and women,” the senator said.

"Clearly, this is an industrial complex that involves various actors from around Southeast Asia and beyond. Maybe the criminals who abuse and take advantage of Filipinos who just want to find a decent job are all connected,” she pointed out.