Baguio City – Everyday an estimated 6,000 Filipinos leave to work overseas – fathers, mothers, siblings, cousins or even an entire family. They opted to work abroad and have their own reasons why they prefer to work abroad.
One of the main reasons why Filipinos are willing to go abroad for work is the low average salary and benefits offered by local employers in the Philippines. Jobs that are in-demand and should have a fair compensation such as nurses, engineers, accountants, and other professionals are inadequately paid compare with the compensation that are waiting for them abroad. Even for skilled workers, such as housemaids, masons, carpenters and laborers are well compensated abroad than the professionals in the country.
The truth may hurt, but let’s face it – being employed abroad and doing the same work that we do in the Philippines provide us double or more income and salary than being employed in our own land.
To secure a job overseas, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and their families spend large amounts of time and money to pay for fees, paperwork, as well as trips to and from their villages to the cities. But in many instances, prospective workers can be scammed by illegal recruitment schemes.
Illegal recruitment shall mean any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-license or non-holder of authority (RA8042).
Government data reveal that migrant workers continue to be victims of illegal recruitment despite laws against it. Hundreds of illegal recruitment cases were reported to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2017 and cases that have either been dropped or not reported at all is not included.
For OFWs or Would-Be-OFWs, knowing how to avoid being a victim can spell the difference between hope and misery. Here are some ways to guide you: When applying for a job abroad, always apply through Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) – licensed recruitment agencies; with an authorized representative and in a registered office address. You can check agency details at www.poea.gov.ph .
The next step would be: check if the job offer is POEA approved and the recruitment fee is equal to one month salary and paid after employment contract is signed and always demand for an official receipt. Also, avoid internet job offers requiring “Immediate Payment” to secure application and job ads and brochures requiring payments to a post office box or PO Box. Remember that offers to work abroad through tourist visas… a red flag. An illegal recruiter promises faster deployment through tourist visa. As a holder of a tourist visa you cannot legally work in your host country. Legal job offers provide authentic work visas.
Some form of illegal recruitment include: Leaving the country as a tourist but with the intention of working abroad; Escort Services – tourist/workers “escorted” at the country’s airports and seaports; By Correspondence – applicants are encouraged by the recruiter to comply with employment requirements and placements through mail; Blind Ads – fraudulent and misleading advertisements promising facility of employment; Au Pair – an inter-cultural program wherein a host family sponsors a person to study Backdoor Exit – going out of the country through some airports and seaports in the southern part of the Philippines; Camouflaged participation in foreign seminars and sports events; Workers leave as participants in seminars or sports events but eventually finding jobs in the host country; Traineeship Scheme – Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) students leaving in the guise of a traineeship program for hotels abroad but eventually landing jobs in the training establishment.
Illegal recruitment is considered as economic sabotage if it is carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another or it is committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group.
What is the punishment for illegal recruitment? Republic Act No. 10022 states that any person found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than twelve (12) years and one (1) day but not more than twenty (20) years and a fine of not less than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) nor more than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00).
If the illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage, the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00) nor more than Five million pesos (P5,000,000.00) shall be imposed.
For more information about illegal recruitment, visit our websites www.dole.gov.ph or www.poea.gov.ph or www.owwa.gov.ph and DOLE Hotline: 1349./ Patrick T Rillorta