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Human trading rampant among recruitment agents' counterparts, says migrant group

On October 28, 2010

“If we think that human trafficking is the 'modus operandi' of unlicensed and illegal recruiters victimizing thousands would-be overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and even old-timer OFWs, then we are partly wrong and must be corrected.”

Thus, said today by an alliance of Filipino migrants right group in the Middle East after its chapters in different mid-east countries received several complaints and request for assistance from distress OFWs who have been victim of illegal human trading.

“And if we think that going to a licensed agency is the safest and convenient way for aspiring OFWs to work abroad, then we are mislead,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator.

Monterona said human trading is rampant among recruitment agencies' local counterpart in host-receiving countries in the Middle East.

Monterona cited the case of OFW Purisima (not her real name), 36 years old who works as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia, as a concrete example at hand. Her case is the 12th case Migrante-ME had received for this month alone.

She is now working with her 3rd employer, after she had been traded by the Saudi-based local counterpart agent of her recruitment agent in the Philippines.

She said with her 1st employer, she was not paid of her salary for 3 months (May, June, and October), while with the 2nd employer she had 2 months unpaid salary (November and January) until she again is traded to another employer.

“Of course, she complained about her unpaid salaries to her local agent but she is not expecting that she'll be traded to another employer, and then again traded to another employer for the second time,” Monterona added.

Monterona said if one is deployed for work overseas, she should be employed to one employer, and it is clearly mentioned in the employment contract whom she will be working for.

“Trading to another employer, then again to another, is not part and could not be part of a valid employment contract; you could never see such contract as it is illegal but in practice trading of OFWs especially domestic helper is rampant here in the middle east,” Monterona added.

Monterona said it is happening under a 'highly deregulated' deployment of workers overseas where recruitment agents play a major role along with their local counterpart agents in the host-receiving countries.

He said that of the 1.8-M OFWs in the Mid-east, 90% were deployed through agencies which have a tie-up agents in the host-receiving countries.

“On a highly deregulated and intensified labor export program such as the Philippines, the government partly pass on the responsibility of protecting the well-being and rights of its workers to the recruitment agents; unfortunately, the interest of the recruiters to earn is its priority than providing protection to its deployed workers abroad,” he added.

Monterona said in due time they will be submitting a lists of Philippine recruitment agencies' local counterpart agents in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Mid-east that are engage in illegal human trading of its hired OFWs, mostly domestic workers, to the Philippine Labor department for its information and would ask for corresponding action to stop this illegal act of trading OFWs to so many employers.

Written by:

John Leonard Monterona

Migrante-ME regional coordinator

email: [email protected]