There is new scheme to facilitate illegal recruitment nowadays-use minor for a tourist visa. This scheme was uncovered by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) posted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Lovely” is fourteen 14 years old.  She is tall for her age and had the looks of her mother who was once a beauty queen of her town somewhere in the Cordilleras.

“Lovely”, the Filipina recruit was traveling with the 12 year old daughter of “Marilyn”, her recruiter with a travel clearance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) citing her as the guardian was about to board a Saudi bound  flight but were stopped by Immigration Officers.

The recruit was leaving under the sponsorship of “Marilyn” who was attempting to depart as a tourist but is actually a household service worker (HSW) in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. She pretended to be the guardian of the children, and alleged they were bound for Saudi Arabia to visit the mother of “Lovely”, who allegedly works in Dammam. Upon interview, “Lovely” admitted that she was promised a job as a “Kadama” or maid in Dammam. Her recruiter promised that the costs for her travel will be deducted from her salary, which is a very problematic set-up as it puts the worker at a disadvantage.

It is very disappointing to know that some people would resort to using children as accessory to an illegal act or trafficking scheme. “Lovely” was turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation and assistance.

The Philippines began its labor migration policy in the 70’s to address the problem of unemployment brought about the oil crisis. It was only meant to be a temporary solution. For more than 45 years later and just about every Filipino has a family member who is an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) hailed as today’s “Bagong Bayani”. Studies also show that OFWs are spread out all over the world. Just about anywhere in the world you go, you’re bound to meet a Filipino. The Philippines is a major supplier of labor migrants to over 100 countries.

An estimated 6,000 plus Filipinos leave to work overseas every single day – fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, cousins, or even an entire family.  To secure a job overseas, OFWs and their families spend large amounts of time and money to pay for fees, paperwork, as well as trips to and from hometowns and cities. But in many instances, prospective workers can be scammed by illegal recruitment schemes.

According to government data, migrant workers continue to be victims of illegal recruitment despite laws against it. There are thousands who fall prey to illegal recruitment.

For OFWs and would be migrant workers, there are things to know about illegal recruitment in the Philippines so to avoid being a victim. This can spell the difference between hope and misery. Here are some ways to guide you.

Do not apply at recruitment agencies not licensed by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Checking the status of the recruitment agency where you will submit your application is one way to decrease your risk of ending up to an illegal recruiter. Every recruitment agency, be it land-based or sea-based, is required to secure a license from POEA before it can start its recruitment.

Do not deal with licensed agencies without job orders. Some illegal recruiters might advice you to take medical examinations without even presenting a proof that a valid job order or employment contract is available for you. This is a big no-no because in order for you to work abroad, a valid job order from a licensed recruitment agency is required.

Do not deal with any person who is not an authorized representative of a licensed agency. A lot of people have been fooled by illegal recruiters disguising as legal representatives of POEA. They can even present to you some their fake identification cards so you will buy every thing that they will tell you.

Do not transact business outside the registered address of the agency. If recruitment is conducted in the province, check if the agency has a provincial recruitment authority. Never trust a person who introduces himself as a representative of a recruitment agency and mostly prefers meet-ups in public places like fast-food restaurants or coffee shops for an important transaction involving money. The legal way of securing a job is through POEA and not through questionable out-of-office transactions.

Do not pay more than the allowed placement fee. It should be equivalent to one month’s salary, exclusive of documentation and processing costs and do not pay any placement fee unless you have a valid employment contract and an official receipt.

Do not be enticed by ads or brochures requiring you to reply to a Post Office (P.O.) Box, and to enclose payment for processing of papers and do not deal with training centers and travel agencies, which promise overseas employment.

Do not accept a tourist visa. You want an easy way out? Then try a tourist visa. However, using a tourist visa to secure employment abroad is illegal both in the Philippines and in the host country where you will do the job search. Always remember that cutting corners is not advisable especially if you want to get a job overseas. In addition to that, this method is one of the leading strategies used by illegal recruiters to convince hapless victims to try their luck abroad. Remember… Do not deal with fixers.

END/Patrick Rillorta