THE long arm of the law finally caught up with a notorious illegal recruiter who allegedly swindled a number of unsuspecting job seekers of their hard-earned money by promising them non-existent jobs abroad.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd said Antonio Garate Toca Jr., 49, of Quezon City was arrested last week in an entrapment operation conducted by agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in cooperation with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Bello ordered the immediate prosecution of Toca to serve as a lesson to other individuals who are involved in similar activities.
“We have to get rid of these nefarious individuals, and we have to stop their operations. As I have emphatically stated in my assumption into office at DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment), stamping out illegal recruiters, illegal recruitment agencies, as well as those involved in human trafficking, will be one of my priority policies,” Bello said in a statement over the weekend.
In his report to Bello, POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said Toca was arrested for violation of Section 6 (Large Scale Illegal Recruitment) of Republic Act No. 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995), as amended by Republic Act No. 10022, and Swindling under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.
“The complainants sought the assistance of the POEA in verifying information about the recruiter. Our initial investigation disclosed that respondent Toca promised complainants jobs in Canada under the ‘direct hire’ scheme. Each of them was collected an amount ranging from P15,000 to P40,000 for the processing of their travel documents,” Cacdac said.
Toca, Cacdac said, is not licensed or authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment.
Further investigation also revealed that Toca was a recruitment staff of OFW Recruitment Agency from March 1, 2013 to June 28, 2013. The license of the agency was cancelled on June 13, 2013 for recruitment violations.
“We have promptly advised the complainants on the proper way of applying for overseas employment and the courses of action they could take against their recruiter,” Cacdac said.
Assistant State Prosecutor Amenda Leano-Garcia recommended the filing of criminal complaints for large-scale illegal recruitmet and swindling against Toca before the courts.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL