Acting Labor and Employment Secretary Danilo P. Cruz yesterday warned illegal recruiters that the amended provisions of Republic Act 8042 relating to penalties for perpetrators of illegal recruitment are now stiffer.

“The express provisions of Republic Act 10022 articulating the new penalties for acts of  illegal recruitment provides specific sanctions for such violations  which are stiffer, both in civil and criminal liabilities aspect,” Cruz warned.

“Illegal recruitment violation carries the penalty of imprisonment of up to twenty years and civil liability of up to P2 million in fines,” he added.

Cruz issued the warning even as he urged the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, which regulates overseas recruitment activities, to go all out and strictly enforce the anti-illegal recruitment provisions of R.A. 10022.

“Illegal recruitment has been a perennial problem. Despite the government’s effort to fight this deleterious crime, many Filipinos are still being routinely victimized by illegal recruiters in rural and urban areas. We need to sow fear in the hearts of violators that they face heavy penalties for their illegal activities,” said Cruz, adding that the POEA has been engaged in a very serious campaign and programs have been introduced to guarantee that worker’s rights against illegal recruitment activities are duly protected.

Saying that “illegal recruitment activities must be restrained,” he directed POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac to strictly enforce the rules and regulations on illegal recruitment and to sustain this at all times without any exception.
On the other hand, Cruz urged victims of illegal recruitment not to be afraid and to come out and file complaints against their illegal recruiters so the authorities can apprehend and penalize them.

He said it is not the government alone that can stop illegal recruiters. “We need the participation and cooperation of the public in bringing to court these scum of the earth. The applicants themselves can do much to curtail the activities of illegal recruiters by knowing and exercising their rights to choose who to deal with in their application for overseas employment. They should be vigilant,” Cruz said.

To track down illegal recruiters, the POEA’s Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch is intensifying its surveillance and investigation of suspected illegal recruiters in various areas of the country. It also regularly sends out POEA operatives to close establishments determined to be engaged in the nefarious trade and assists aggrieved parties in filing necessary civil and criminal cases in court.

Cruz reiterated the penalties for illegal recruitment as provided for under R. A. 10022, to wit:

“SEC. 7.Penalties. –
“(a) Any person found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than twelve (12) years and one (1) day but not more than twenty (20) years and a fine of not less than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) nor more than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00).
“(b) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00) nor more than Five million pesos (P5,000,000.00) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage as defined therein.
“Provided, however, That the maximum penalty shall be imposed if the person illegally recruited is less than eighteen (18) years of age or committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority.
“(c) Any person found guilty of any of the prohibited acts shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than six (6) years and one (1) day but not more than twelve (12) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) nor more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00).
“If the offender is an alien, he or she shall, in addition to the penalties herein prescribed, be deported without further proceedings.
“In every case, conviction shall cause and carry the automatic revocation of the license or registration of the recruitment/manning agency, lending institutions, training school, or medical clinic.”

Cruz said the tougher penalties are intended to curb illegal activities relating to recruitment and placement of workers.

“The POEA and other DOLE attached agencies continuously support and conduct seminars and training to impart knowledge and information on proper recruitment and placement process in order to prevent illegal recruiters from even attempting to victimize Filipino workers,” he said.

He explained that some of the persistent illegal recruitment violations include cases of misrepresentation, violation of employment contracts, violation of contractual obligation to employees, excessive collection of processing fees and documentation expenses, and unauthorized operation of recruitment and placement agency.

End/Stella P. Bañares

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