The presidential anti-illegal recruitment task force (PAIRTF) in its six-month operation in 2004 has assisted a total of 2,209 victims of illegal recruitment and apprehended 274 suspected illegal recruiters including 16 foreign nationals, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said as it warned the public anew against unscrupulous individuals and agencies recruiting workers for non-existent jobs abroad.

A PAIRTF report to Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas also showed that the task force has charged the suspects in court, 117 of whom have been detained at the PAIRTF detention center in Manila while 157 have been released pending further investigation. Cases were filed also against 52 suspects who remained at large.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo created the PAIRTF last July to intensify the campaign against illegal recruitment. It is being headed by Capt. Reynaldo H. Jaylo while Sto. Tomas chairs the task force oversight committee.

The PAIRTF report also showed that the task force apprehended 16 foreigners suspected of recruiting workers for non-existent jobs in Japan, Europe, Papua New Guinea, Middle East and other parts of Asia.

Seven of the foreigners were Japanese recruiting workers for non-existent jobs as nurses, caregivers, domestic workers and factory workers in Japan. The other foreigners who were allegedly engaged in illegal recruitment were two Koreans, two Arabs, two Papua Guinea nationals, and one each from France, Malaysia, and Switzerland.

The task force also arrested and detained a Filipino, a certain Ferdinand Viduya Garcia who allegedly victimized 19 teachers hoping to be hired in the US. Garcia collected from the teachers a total of P1.6 million ranging from P24,000 to as much as P125,000 each.

The agency also arrested a certain Julia Lontoc who collected close to P1 million from nine applicants hoping to work as caregivers in the US. The applicants gave Lontoc amounts ranging from P15,000 to P360,000. Complaints have also been filed with the PAIRTF against a number of unscrupulous recruiters who collected as much as P500,000 from victims applying for non-existent caregiving jobs in the US.

The suspects took advantage of the reported demand for teachers and caregivers in the US, Sto. Tomas said as she asked the workers once again to verify first with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the nearest DOLE regional office the authenticity of overseas job offers they may receive and to report immediately to the PAIRTF suspicious recruitment activities they may encounter.

“Again, we are calling on the workers to ensure the existence of job orders with the POEA and the DOLE for all overseas jobs that may be offered them,” she said.

In the US, for instance, the demand for teachers and caregivers including nurses is hindered by the fact that the visa cap for temporary professional workers for fiscal year Oct. 2004- Oct. 2005 has been reached. The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) in this regard has stopped accepting petitions for new H-IB “temporary professional worker” visas for the current fiscal year.

“This means that job orders for temporary professional workers in the US will be put on hold until the lifting of the visa cap by the CIS,” Sto. Tomas said.

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