Filipinos engaged in illegal recruitment and human trafficking outside the country can still be prosecuted in Manila, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Bernard Olalia warned.
He said there are ways by which the Philippine government can force illegal recruiters and human traffickers operating abroad to go back to Manila to face criminal charges.
“Even if offenders hide in remote parts of the world, the government can ask for their extradition to face charges in the country,” Olalia said at the Global Online Conference of Overseas Filipinos held in Pasay City by the Alliance of Overseas Filipinos (AOFC), a Hong Kong-based non-government organization (NGO).
Jeffrey Valdez, vice consul at the Philippine embassy in Moscow, said up to 95 percent of about 5,000 Filipinos are illegally working as domestic helpers in Russia since there are no work visas for foreign helpers in that country.
Olalia said illegal recruiters can be charged with illegal recruitment, human trafficking and estafa.
“If criminal charges are filed against illegal recruiters and if warrants of arrest are issued against them, these arrest warrants can be served anywhere in the world and the government can ask for their extradition to Manila so they can face criminal charges,” he said.
“There are no jobs in Russia for Filipino helpers as there are no working visas for foreign helpers. So anyone arranging jobs for helpers in Russia is committing an offense under Philippine laws,” Olalia said.
AOFC president Juanito Concepcion said illegal recruiters and human traffickers are making a mockery of Philippine laws by operating with impunity outside the Philippines.
“Unless the government successfully prosecutes illegal recruiters, notably a notorious Filipino national in Hong Kong, more OFWs will be victimized and offenders will continue to mock Philippine laws,” he said.
Michelle Rocas, who used to work in Hong Kong and Russia, said the POEA should go after Filipinos engaged in illegal recruitment and human trafficking in Hong Kong and Russia.
“A Filipino woman and her sister, who operate separate recruitment agencies in Hong Kong, continue to send Filipino domestics to Russia illegally from Hong Kong, Manila, the Middle East and elsewhere. They operate with impunity in connivance with certain Filipinos in Russia and the government can’t seem to do anything to stop members of this syndicate,” she said.
Nhie Lopos, who is working in Russia, urged the POEA to take action against illegal recruiters and human traffickers operating in that country.
“More and more OFWs are arriving here from the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia and other countries and this means illegal recruiters, including OFWs, are very active here,” she said.