Hontiveros seeks strict regulation of internet-based recruitment firms amid surge in human trafficking cases

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday, January 24 sought for a stricter regulation of internet-based recruitment firms as the number of Filipinos falling victim to human trafficking have seemingly increased in the last few months.

Hontiveros noted that many Filipinos are getting enticed to accept jobs offered through social media platforms like Facebook “only to land in really dubious and abusive work environments.”

“Nakakalungkot nga (It is sad), we just passed the Expanded Anti-trafficking in Persons Act and yet following that nadiskubre namin itong mga (we discovered there is this) ongoing trafficking and crypto-scamming syndicates in other ASEAN countries,” Hontiveros said in an interview on ANC Headstart, citing stories of the latest victim survivors who were trafficked to Myanmar and Cambodia.

“So ibig sabihin kailangan humabol yung implementasyon nitong bagong at pinalakas na anti-trafficking law (So it means that the implementation of the new Anti-Trafficking Law has to catch up),” she said.

Since there are crypto-scamming operations that have appeared in social media applications that have force trafficked Filipinos to work then it means the government has to look into regulations related to internet-based business.

“What is the proper regulation that should be done here? What are the obligations of internet service providers (ISPs) that are financial intermediaries?

“Even some social media platforms we have mentioned, (like) Facebook, our victim-survivors in Myanmar also said they would contact their intended victims even through LinkedIn, professional apps and also through dating apps. So there's a whole so-called dark ecosystem out there that is being equipped,” she pointed out.

Just this month, Hontiveros disclosed how some Filipinos are illegally recruited to work as crypto-scammers in Cambodia. Last month, in December 2023, the lawmaker bared the accounts of some Filipinos who were duped to work in Thailand but ended up getting trafficked as crypto-scammers in Myanmar.

She also alleged that some Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials assigned in Clark International Airport were involved in the human trafficking scheme.