President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has added illegal recruiters in his list of criminals that should be wiped out immediately. According to incoming Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the agency plans to give reward money to help stop illegal recruitment in the Philippines, and as an added protection for Filipinos who want to work abroad.
“One of the first thing I will do (once I assumed my post) is to announce we will be handing rewards to organizations or individuals, who will be able to give us information on illegal recruiters. This (illegal recruitment) has to stop and its perpetrators jailed.” Bello said, adding that this will serve as motivation for Filipinos to help the agency.
Bello, who served as secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) from 1990 to 1992 during the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino, noted that he has already discussed the matter with various overseas employment agencies, and that they have agreed to contribute to the reward money to help catch illegal recruiters.
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Based on the data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the agency has been receiving an annual average of 400 to 500 illegal recruitment cases. This is despite the various programs of the PNoy administration, the existence of OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration), and the laws protecting the OFWs.
Meanwhile, outgoing DOLE Secretary Rosalinda D. Baldoz recently urged Duterte to consider illegal recruitment as heinous crime, and to impose death penalty as maximum punishment for illegal recruiters or related syndicates. Currently, the highest punishment for such activities is life imprisonment under Rule IV, Section 5 of Republic Act No. 10022.
On the other hand, Duterte has been very vocal about restoring death penalty as a fight to end drugs and criminality in the country. Nevertheless, he also considers illegal recruiters as thieves, who should be stopped from taking advantage of the people’s dream to work abroad. He will take oath as the 16th president of the Philippines this Thursday, June 30.