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NEW OFW DEPT TO DETER ILLEGAL RECRUITERS, FIXERS

Illegal recruiters and fixers preying on hapless overseas Filipino workers seeking employment abroad are now put on notice once the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is established, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

Villanueva, principal sponsor and author of Republic Act No. 11461, has been crafted to eliminate the “nooks and crannies” where fixers and illegal recruiters thrive to victimize hapless Filipinos seeking to provide a decent living to their families and loved ones.

“Ito pong mga fixer at illegal recruiter, hindi lang ang mga kababayan natin ang nabibiktima, pati na rin ang mga pangarap nila para sa kanilang pamilya. Kaya sa bagong DMW na itatatag, tinatanggalan natin sila ng pagkakataong manloko ng ating mga kababayan,” said the chair of the Senate labor committee.

“Isa na lang po ang entry at exit point para sa lahat ng transaksyon para mabilis ang daloy ng pagproseso ng ating mga OFWs.”

“Isa na lang po ang entry at exit point para sa lahat ng transaksyon para mabilis ang daloy ng pagproseso ng ating mga OFWs,” the veteran legislator said. “Pinagsama-sama na po natin ang lahat ng ahensiya sa iisang bahay upang mas pabilisin ang serbisyo at gawing streamlined ang mga proseso.”

The seasoned lawmaker said that would-be OFWs from the provinces need not go to Metro Manila to process their travel papers or seek assistance as there will be fully operational regional offices for the DMW serving as one-stop-shop centers for workers headed overseas.

RA No. 11461 also “provides clear parameters for ethical recruitment, which is the lawful hiring of workers in a fair and transparent manner that respects and protects their dignity and human rights to protect our OFWs from abuses and exploitation,” the senator explained, making the Philippines among the first signatories to the UN Global Compact on Migration to include an express provision on ethical recruitment.

Ethical recruitment covers the accreditation of foreign principals and employers, as well as the licensing and regulation of their counterpart recruitment agencies in the country to eliminate cases of contract violation and substitution, among the many kinds of abuse suffered by OFWs.

He also pointed out that the proposed department would also create a blacklist of persons and agencies involved in human trafficking to stamp out illegal recruiters out of business.

“Working overseas should be by choice and not by necessity.”

“But more than getting rid of opportunities for illegal recruiters and fixers to prey on OFWs, our government’s priority continues to be the creation of jobs here in our country. Working overseas should be by choice and not by necessity,” Villanueva stressed.

Data from the labor department showed that the government only managed to secure 2 illegal recruitment convictions each in 2019 and 2020 despite the hundreds of cases endorsed to the justice department for prosecution.

He also cited the situation in the Middle East, where the numerous cases of rape and sexual abuse reached 240 in 2020 alone.

In the same year, the government recorded 4,302 maltreatment cases of OFWs in the same year, while contract violation and substitution cases reached 21,265 cases.

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