9 suspected illegal recruiters arrested in Cebu

CEBU CITY – Nine persons were arrested for their alleged involvement in a large-scale illegal recruitment operation in the province of Cebu.


NBI-7 Director Renan Oliva shows pictures of suspected illegal recruiters who were arrested in Cebu. (Calvin D. Cordova)

The suspects, who are facing non-bailable charges, were arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation-Central Visayas (NBI-7) while they were conducting a seminar for their recruits in a beach resort in Talisay City, Cebu on Sunday, May 12.

“It was an entrapment operation,” lawyer Renan Oliva, regional director of NBI-7, said in a press briefing on Wednesday, May 15.

The seminar was one of the requirements for the recruits to be hired as farm workers in Australia, Oliva added.

Arrested were Alice Rondez of Barangay Santa Cruz, Balamban, Cebu; Cristina Arcilla of Barangay San Isidro, Asturias, Cebu; Glendard Musngi of Barangay Poblacion, Talisay City, Cebu; Leon Alegado of Barangay Gun-ob, Lapu-Lapu City; Elisa Toñacao of Barangay Basak, Mandaue City; Lemuel Ahito of Barangay Pusok, Lapu-Lapu; Levert Fuentes of Borbon, Cebu; Librada Jumanguin of Barangay Gun-on, Lapu-Lapu; and Jocelyn Resaba of Barangay Buanoy, Balamban.

Rondez is the alleged leader of the group.

Charges have been filed against the suspects before the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.

Oliva said the recruits were promised jobs as mango and coconut farmers in Australia.

“Based on our investigation, these jobs are non-existent and the Office of the Migrant Workers issued a certification that the suspects are not authorized to recruit workers abroad,” said Oliva.

Several victims showed up at the NBI-7 headquarters here on Wednesday.

One of the victims, Perly Tumbiga of Barangay Canjulao, Lapu-Lapu City, said she had spent at least P7,000 to process her supposed application.

Tumbiga said she and her fellow applicants were made to pay P100 the moment they arrived at the recruitment office.

The recruits were also asked to pay P500 for “vlogging” and another P1,500 for their orientation. The vlogging was the process where the recruits were filmed to introduce themselves and narrate their background.

Tumbiga said they were also asked to pay P500 for every seminar for their food.

She said she started applying early this year and started to become suspicious when three months have passed but she has yet to fly abroad.

Tumbiga said they promised a salary of equivalent to P2,000 per hour. She said they were also asked to recruit other applicants. “We were asked to recruit others so that when the total applicants reach 3,000, we can leave immediately,” said Tumbiga.

The illegal recruitment allegedly started in 2017 and stopped when the pandemic struck. “I hope we will be given justice because what we went through was not easy,” said Tumbiga.

Oliva said the recruitment happened in several areas in Cebu City and the province of Cebu.

In Tuburan, there were three batches of seminars that were conducted and attended by at least 1,000 persons.

Following the arrest, Oliva warned the public against individuals enticing people to work abroad. “Coordinate with proper government agencies. The NBI for example, we will assist or help verify if the agency or personalities are authorized to recruit workers for a job abroad,” Oliva said.

The suspects denied any wrongdoing in an interview in their detention cell at the NBI-7 headquarters here.

They said that some people were just jealous of them and made it appear that their recruitment was illegal. “We just want to grab the opportunity to find work abroad. We were just applicants,” said Ahito, a security guard.

Ahito said they were recruited by team leaders and helped facilitate the conduct of the seminar when NBI-7 agents arrested them.