LABOR Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Tuesday endorsed to the incoming Duterte administration a review of the heinous nature of the crime of illegal recruitment, which remains unabated despite government efforts to curtail it.
Baldoz pointed out that illegal recruitment is tantamount to economic sabotage, which is punishable by life imprisonment under the existing law.
Citing the observation of some sectors that the penalty for illegal recruitment is not enough, Baldoz said the next administration may want to review the heinous nature of the crime as basis for the imposition of the death penalty.
“But I believe strong remedial measures must be implemented to complement preventive efforts, that is why we at the DOLE have never ceased coming up with ways, such as the mandatory pre-employment online seminar to educate Filipinos about the illegal recruitment menace,” she added.
Baldoz clarified that she was not pushing for the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of illegal recruitment.
“I am pro-life and I remain so. I am not pushing for the death penalty because I firmly believe even the most-hardened criminal should be given a chance to change his ways and get back to his family and community to lead a transformed life,” she said.
Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act categorizes syndicated or large-scale illegal recruitment as “economic sabotage” punishable by life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P2 million to P5 million.
Philippine Overseas Employment Administratioin (POEA) chief Hans Leo Cacdac said that illegal recruitment is repugnant to the nation’s norms of decency and morality and may, therefore, be considered as belonging under the category of “heinous crimes.”
“Given that President-elect [Rodrigo] Duterte has announced that he will ask our lawmakers to re-impose the death penalty for certain crimes, the possibility of linking the concept of illegal recruitment amounting to economic sabotage to heinous crimes could form part of the review,” he said.
POEA records show that only 16 of 725 illegal recruitment cases filed at the Department of Justice have resulted in convictions by the courts.
Cacdac said with or without the death penalty, due attention should be given to speed up the resolution of cases without sacrificing the Constitutional requirement of due process, coupled with a more appropriate penalty for convicted illegal recruiters.