Gov’t admits difficulty in prosecuting illegal recruiters
MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Monday admitted that the government is having difficulty in prosecuting and convicting illegal recruiters of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) since many illegal recruiters are now based abroad and many victims choose not to pursue their cases.
“We have to admit that we have very few convictions. Many of our illegal recruiters are foreign-based. Many of our victims of illegal recruitments are willing victims. Alam na nila ‘yung pinapasukan nila (They know what they’re getting into),” Bello said in a Senate hearing on bills seeking to create the Department of OFW.
“Many of these cases result in dismissal kasi nag-eexecute ng affidavit of desistance ‘yung mga complainants,” he added.
(Many of these cases result in dismissal because complainants execute affidavits of desistance.)
While there are many arrests, the difficulty lies in the prosecution, Bello said.
“‘Yung mga victims ay nagwi-withdraw, hindi na nila pinupursue ‘yung kanilang complaints,” Bello said.
(The victims withdraw their cases. They do not pursue their complaints.)
Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development chairperson Joel Villanueva, citing data from the Department of Labor and Employment, pointed out that only two illegal recruitment cases resulted in conviction in 2020.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the proposed law on the creation of a new department should be able to address the problem with illegal recruiters.
“This new department should assure us that the root cause of illegal recruitment will be addressed. We should use this opportune time to go after these illegal recruiters through this law. We have to be proactive in bringing these illegal recruiters to justice,” he said.
Senator Ronald dela Rosa, for his part, said the creation of a new department will address the issue of illegal recruiters since no prospective OFWs will be “willing victims” anymore.
“Wala nang magiging willing victim kapag alam nila na may departamento na para sa kanila,” he said.
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