2 persons operating as illegal recruiters should be classified as syndicate: Pulong

Davao City First District Representative Paolo “Pulong” Duterte renewed his call for urgent passage of a bill aimed at classifying two or more persons involved in illegal recruitment as a syndicate.

The bill also requires a life sentence for offenders.

Rep. Pulong, together with Benguet Rep. Eric Yap and ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Edvic Yap, filed House Bill (HB) 8360, which would serve as a deterrent to persons resorting to predatory practices to scam overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Under this bill, two persons working together in an illegal recruitment scam shall constitute a syndicate.

“By amending RA 8042, we would be strengthening the law against these predators who, with as few as two conspirators, can commit massive illegal recruitment using technology and the internet,” Rep. Pulong said.

The current law, Republic Act (RA) 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act, defines illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate as an act of three or more persons and deemed an act of economic sabotage punishable with life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P1 million.

If HB 8360 is signed into law, at least two conspirators engaged in fraudulent recruitment schemes would face the same punishments.

According to Rep. Pulong, illegal recruiters continue to come up with new tricks to deceive OFWs, as shown by recent cases reported by the Department of Migration and Management (DMW). These cases involved individuals who masquerade as immigration consultancy firms to trick job seekers into paying high fees to process their overseas work visas.

The DMW recently terminated the employment of 11 seas immigration services in Pasay City. The consultancy firm was found to charge exorbitant processing fees and illegally hire Filipinos seeking employment in Poland.

The DMW did not approve the company to hire workers.

Last week, the Consulate-General of the Philippines in Milan also warned OFWs looking for employment in Italy not to fall prey to the so-called “decreto flussi recruitment” scam after it discovered the fraudulent activities of Alpha Assistenza, another immigration consultancy firm, which defrauded at least 200 OFWs of up to 3,000 euros each.

The Consulate cited that some individuals and agencies have begun to charge “reservation fees” ranging from 500 to 5,000 euros to process non-existent work visas soon after Italy unveiled their decreto flussi program, which allows the hiring of as many as 452,000 foreign workers in the next three years.

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