House passes bill redefining illegal recruitment by a syndicate
MANILA, Philippines — A bill that will redefine illegal recruitment by a syndicate, aimed at protecting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from unscrupulous recruitment firms, has been approved by the House of Representatives on its third and final reading.
During the session on Monday, 260 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill (HB) No. 7718, while none opposed it or abstained from voting.
The bill seeks to amend the Labor Code and Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act by defining what constitutes illegal recruitment by a syndicate — namely, “if the offenders are non-licensees or non-holders of authority and the act was carried out by two or more persons.”
The bill will also include a provision in the migrant workers’ law allowing illegal recruitment to be considered economic sabotage.
“We see this proposed law as an added protection for our hardworking OFWs and an effort to strengthen further our efforts in deterring illegal recruitment and giving justice to OFWs who fall prey to illegal recruitment,” House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said.
The bill, he said, was necessary because illegal recruitment by a syndicate, as currently defined in the Labor Code, will have to be committed by three or more persons.
“The minimum number of persons provided in the law makes it hard to prosecute illegal recruitment cases by a syndicate,” Romualdez said.
The bill aims to bring down the minimum number of offenders to two.
“With House Bill 7718, we hope to fight the crime of illegal recruitment further and make it easier for government prosecutors to file and prosecute the crime of illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate in the case of non-licensees or non-holders of authorities, as two or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another would be sufficient,” he added.
While a lot of OFWs find greener pastures in other countries, there are several workers who end up doing jobs that are completely different from what was stated in their contracts — or worse, end up in trafficking rings.
Just last Friday, Sen. Risa Hontiveros called the attention of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) after OFWs in Taiwan told her that there were inconsistencies in the contract they signed in the Philippines and the job they are doing in Taiwan.
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