Elements of the presidential anti-illegal recruitment task force (PAIRTF) is looking for a Japanese recruiter, one Takeshi Imura, who together with his partner, a certain Rosalinda Castillo, victimized 39 factory workers seeking employment in Japan.

A PAIRTF report to Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas showed that the task force has charged the suspects in court for recruiting the victims without a license. Sto. Tomas said the suspects violated RA 8042 or the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.”

The law indicates that agencies engaged in the recruitment and placement of workers overseas be registered with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Any agency or individual who recruits workers without a POEA license has committed illegal recruitment as in the case of Imura and Castillo.

Castillo was arrested last month in Libertad, Pasay City while Imura is still at large. The PAIRTF report showed that the couple exacted an unauthorized amount of P5,500 from each victim or a total of P214,500.

Imura was one of the seven Japanese nationals suspected of engaging in illegal recruitment by the PAIRTF since the task force was organized in July 2004. The other Japanese suspects allegedly recruited Filipino workers seeking employment in Japan as nurses and domestic workers.

Last October, the task force also arrested a certain Kunihiro Nakano, together with his two Filipino partners, Erlina Presto and Danilo Gonzales. Representing the unlicensed Presto Human Resource Development Center, the three collected unauthorized fees ranging from P30,000 to P44,000 or a total of P219,000 from six nurses who were hoping to get placements in Japan. Cases have been filed against the three who are now detained at the Quezon City jail.

The suspects took advantage of the reported need for foreign nurses and caregivers in Japan, Sto. Tomas said as she reiterated the warning that Japan has not yet opened its market for Filipino nurses and caregivers.

She said the Philippines and Japan have not yet signed a formal trade agreement that would, among others, pave the way for the employment of Filipino nurses and caregivers in Japan. “We have to wait for the forging of the agreement before we can accept legitimate job offers for nursing and caregiving work in Japan,” she said adding the government is exerting utmost efforts to ensure the best terms and conditions for the Filipino workers in its negotiations with the Japan government.

The PAIRTF also reported that seven more workers were victimized by illegal recruiters in December 2004 who promised the victims non-existent jobs in Japan. A certain Jean Alojado Mendoza allegedly recruited a complainant also as a factory worker in Japan.

The other six complainants were recruited as entertainers in Japan for fees ranging from P7,000 to 35,000 allegedly by Liberty Cantiga Dordas and Mildred Damgo who remained at large. POEA records indicated that Dordas and Damgo’s agency, the Liberty Promotion Center, is not licensed.

The case underscored the need to protect the Filipino workers against exploitation particularly human trafficking, Sto. Tomas said as she underscored the need for Japan and the Philippines to collaborate in this effort.

“Bilateral rather than unilateral action would be a better option in addressing the trafficking of workers as this would facilitate the exchange of information between the two countries,” she said.

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