THE Philippine government is closely monitoring reports of alleged exploitation of undocumented Filipinos by some 7-Eleven storeowners in the United States.
Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday said that upon learning of the alleged abuse, he immediately requested the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to monitor all developments and provide him with prompt updates on the case.
“We do not yet know exactly how many Filipinos are involved, but I would like to assure everyone that we are on top of the situation,” Binay said.
Binay, who is the presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ Concerns is also the concurrent Chairman Emeritus of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking.
Acting on Binay’s urgent query, POEA Administrator Hans Cacdac reported that some 50 illegal immigrants from various countries including the Philippines have been under the employ of 7-Eleven stores since 2000.
“These immigrants were exploited by the storeowners. Their wages were stolen and they were required to live in unregulated boarding houses,” Cacdac said.
Fourteen 7-Eleven stores are said to be involved.
In his report to the Vice President, Cacdac also said that US authorities have not yet disclosed the identities of the immigrants as a matter of standard procedure as the case is still under active investigation.
“What we do know is that a certain Filipino named Ramon Nanas was one of nine suspects indicted for allegedly ‘conspiring to commit wire fraud, stealing identities and concealing and harboring illegal immigrants employed at 7-Eleven Inc. franchise stores located throughout Long Island and Virginia,” he added.
Nanas reportedly assisted the 7-Eleven franchise owners in the commission of the crime.
Cacdac assured the Binay that the Labor Attache in Washington, D.C. and the Philippine Consulate-General in New York are working hand in hand to make sure the rights of all Filipinos involved in the case are protected, and that whatever legal assistance they need is extended.
Binay also reminded workers to go through the proper channels when seeking employment abroad to avoid being victimized.