Tanada asks DOLE to pursue probe on PHL-US human trafficking syndicates

March 3, 2012 1:56 am 

MANILA, March 2 — Alarmed over the reported increase in the number of victims of human trafficking, House Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III on Friday called on the government to launch a crackdown on Filipino and American human trafficking syndicates victimizing Filipinos whose dream is to work in the United States.

Tanada said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reported during a recent hearing of the House committee on overseas workers that "they discovered two more human trafficking syndicates operating in the U.S."

Upon receipt of the report, he said POEA head Hans Leo Cacdac directed his staff to coordinate with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to pursue an investigation on the extent of the syndicates’ operations.

Tanada said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should go after these trafficking syndicates preying on "American-dreamers" who charge as high as US$ 7,000 per victim in "placement processing" fees.

In 2010, the House leader said he had met with 11 Filipino human trafficking victims in the U.S. who were "duped into accepting an employment offer by Manila-based ADMAN Human Resources, Placement, and Promotions of US$ 7.25 per hour work contracts in Virginia and Colorado."

He said the 11 Filipinos, upon arrival in the U.S., had not been given the jobs and salaries promised them, and instead experienced hunger pangs for several days, made to work in Mississippi under conditions bordering on slavery, ending up as the newest additions to the growing number of human trafficking victims in the U.S.

Tanada said this had prompted him to initiate action with the help of the House of Representatives' committee on overseas workers.

"We can confirm that this is a clear-cut case of human trafficking by ADMAN with a possible connivance of a large, Philadelphia-based corporation specializing in human trafficking of Filipinos dreaming of getting jobs in the U.S.," he said.

The House measures initiated by Tanada eventually resulted in legal victory for the victims. However, spurious procedures in the filing of surety bonds had made it impossible for victims to claim their legal right for restitution.

"Perhaps we should check on the properties of former directors of the padlocked ADMAN agency as a start as we determine other ways to provide monetary assistance to the 11 victims," he said.

The Quezon lawmaker has asked POEA to go deeper into the human trafficking cases "because this cannot happen without help from insiders of offices of the Philippines and the U.S. that facilitate travel and work permits."

During the hearing last Wednesday, Cacdac said ADMAN’s license here had been revoked and its board directors placed on derogatory listing.

Cacdac also told the House overseas workers committee that the labor department, through his office, is coordinating with the NBI and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help in building up evidence and filing criminal cases against human traffickers.

"We have the syndicates on our scans and have imposed stricter guidelines to prevent similar human trafficking incidents to happen," he said.

Cacdac assured the House body that the POEA will file the necessary criminal cases against ADMAN this month, pending the labor agency’s coordinating meeting with the NBI and other law enforcement authorities and the ensuing build-up of evidence against erring firms.

Meanwhile, the three-term congressman from Quezon also called for a similar House initiative to look into the status of some 100 Filipino teachers whose work contracts were terminated last year after the U.S. Department of Labor (US-DOL) penalized the school that had hired them under the H1B Program for violation of US-DOL regulations and alleged involvement in shady recruitment schemes.

Tanada said he had met with the teachers in the U.S. in July last year and promised to bring up their plight before the House committee on overseas workers, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the POEA. (PNA)

scs/LGI

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