While saying that the menace of illegal recruitment and human trafficking in persons is not unique in the Philippines but also a global problem, and that its solution is a national responsibility rather than the government’s alone, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday instructed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to intensify the implementation of its strategies to contribute to the effort of preventing Filipinos from becoming illegal recruitment and human trafficking victims. “We have the tools and strategies to do this. All we need is focus and serious will to implement the preventive measures we have set in place. We need, for example, to train more trainers who can help us implement our Trafficking in Persons (AIRTIP) Seminars and Capability Enhancement Training (CET) for local community officials,” Baldoz said. She issued the directive shortly after reports broke out that convicted Filipino drug courier Mary Jane Veloso was temporarily spared the death penalty in Indonesia, for which she expressed relief and gratitude to the Indonesian government. The labor and employment chief said the AIRTIP seminars and the capability enhancement training are two of the major preventive strategies that the POEA has in its arsenals against illegal recruiters and human traffickers. The POEA conducts AIRTIP seminars to educate and develop seminar trainers who are among the key stakeholders specified under the anti-illegal recruitment provisions of R.A 8042, as amended by R.A. 10022 and of the Trafficking in Persons Act (R.A. 9208 as amended by R.A 10364. In these seminars, the trainers discuss and explain the modus operandi of illegal recruiters; tips to avoid illegal recruitment; and the legal modes of applying for overseas employment. They also equip participants with primary skills on investigating illegal recruitment and trafficking, in partnership with prosecutors from the Department of Justice. Participants in these seminars include officials of local government units; law enforcers; prosecutors; members of the academe; Public Employment Service Office (PESO) managers; non-government organizations; and faith-based groups. In a report to the Secretary, POEA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac said the POEA has reached 17,000 participants in a total of 212 AIRTIP and CET seminars conducted all over the country during the last four years. Cacdac emphasized in his report that education as an strategy to battle illegal recruitment and human trafficking occupies a front seat in POEA priorities as indicated by the intensity of its advocacy campaign. “For example, the POEA continues to show in these AIRTIP and CET seminars the PEOS video, “Maging Matalino. Huwag Magpaloko!” whose online version had generated 84,320 views in various websites, like the POEA and PEOS Online websites, since its launch in March 2014. Other AVPs the POEA has developed are the “Ikaw, Handa Ka Na Ba?” video which is also shown during PEOS and CET. Recent materials used in the campaign against illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons are the info-graphs, “If I Leave”, with 9,861 views since it was posted and the “How To Apply Legally for Work Abroad” with 84,624 views. In the last four years, the POEA has also published and distributed the following printed materials: “Frequently Asked Questions (Planning To Work Abroad)” brochure (520,00 copies); Anti-Illegal Recruitment Posters consisting of “10 Reminders to Avoid Illegal Recruitment”; “Sino and Isang Illegal Recruiter”; “Are You a Documented OFW”; and “Attend PEOS” (450,000 copies); “Preparation to Work Abroad Checklist” (7,000 copies); “Laws on Overseas Employment and the “Campaign Against Illegal Recruitment, Trafficking and Irregular Migration Manual” in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (5,000); and PEOS Online and POEA Mobile App flyers (15,000 copies). “We have also distributed more than four million copies of the “List of Licensed Recruitment Agencies” and in the social media, our anti-illegal recruitment advisories in Facebook and Twitter have over two million views,” Cacdac said. To capitalize and maximize the potential of smart phones in disseminating information and educating the public, the POEA developed a mobile app as another tool to protect prospective migrant workers from illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons. With similar intention as PEOS Online, the needed information available from the POEA database could be accessed through the application in mobile phones anytime, anywhere. “They do not have to call or even come to POEA to get the information they need. The POEA mobile app enables overseas jobseekers/applicants to determine instantly the status of a recruitment agency they wish to apply with and the existence and availability of approved job orders and other relevant information to avoid illegal recruitment. Since its launch in March 2014, 69,350 smart phone users have uploaded the application,” Cacdac concluded. END

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