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Monday, November 29, 2010

Five more OFWs duped by traffickers in Haiti

Diplomatic and overseas labor officials on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) bewailed failure of Philippine authorities to stem illegal deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for non-existent jobs in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Philippine Ambassador to Cuba MacArthur Corsino disclosed that five more workers have fallen victims to the human traffickers, bringing to 26 the number of stranded OFWs in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.

“Yes, five new victims of illegal recruitment tantamount to human trafficking arrived in Haiti the other day [Sunday],” Corsino said in an e-mail. The Philippine Embassy in Havana has jurisdiction over Filipinos in Haiti.

Dolor Bagadiong confirmed by Yahoo! Messenger that the five new victims are staying at a Port-au-Prince house being rented and maintained by the suspected traffickers.

Bagadiong, wife of Filipino community leader Frankie Bagadiong, said that many of the stranded workers were being helped by their group in finding jobs, which are increasingly hard to find in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Corsino warned that continuing incidents of trafficking “cannot be stopped unless action is taken both against the recruiters in Manila and the recruiters’ accomplice, the ‘receiving party’ in Port-au-Prince.”

He said that he has asked Philippine Honorary Consul Fitzgerald Brandt in the Haitian capital city to coordinate with law-enforcement authorities in the investigation and prosecution of the alleged traffickers and their accomplices, even if they are Filipino citizens.

“Per testimony of victims, one alleged Filipino accomplice has been a certain Leo Manning in Port-au-Prince. But there appears to be a new one whose name is not known as of now,” the envoy added.

On the basis of affidavits or testimony by some victims, Corsino said that the illegal recruiter has been identified as Maria Consolacion, a.k.a. Marla Wong or Marla Habas, a resident of ParaƱaque City (Metro Manila) and Laguna.

The ambassador added that immigration and other authorities in Manila should stop the departure of any Haiti-bound tourists or would-be OFWs, even if they are carrying contracts.

He said that those departing for the Caribbean country should be asked to produce evidence that they are old, long-term residents or long-term job holders, with working permits.

“Any Haiti-bound departure by a Filipino should have a roundtrip ticket,” the envoy added.

Corsino observed that some of the recent victims were recruited by one Tangog Recruitment Agency, which he said is “evidently an illegal recruiter.”

He said that this new illegal recruiter appears to be using the name of DEECO, a South Korean company, to craft fake contracts since DEECO has finished its project in Port-au-Prince and is sending home, not recruiting, workers.

Corsino added that this new recruiter is conniving with a certain “Ethel,” who works in a travel agency in Manila that issues one-way air tickets.

“The POEA [Philippine Overseas Employment Administration] should stop those with DEECO contracts,” he said. ”Would-be OFWs bound for Haiti with only one-way air tickets should be stopped and investigated by POEA and [Bureau of] Immigration.”

No action in Manila

Corsino is aghast why the illegal recruiters are not being arrested and jailed in Manila.

“These recruiters are not only like leeches sucking the blood of their kababayans [countrymen], they are giving a bad name to the Philippines in the global fight against human trafficking,” he said.

In Los Angeles, Welfare Officer Adonis Duero of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration said that the unchecked trafficking of Filipino workers is giving the country a bad reputation.

Duero, who has the responsibility to assist distressed OFWs not only in the United States but also in neighboring countries, added that it is not enough for the government to close illegal recruitment agencies because they continue to operate by using other recruitment firms.

“The traffickers should be arrested and made to account for their crimes against their hapless victims who end up working like slaves or being left to fend for themselves in foreign lands,” he said.

Bagadiong said that the five new victims, whose names were not immediately available, were staying at a house rented by a certain Ethel, a Filipina.

The supposed half-way house is allegedly being managed by Leo Maning, the father of the alleged mastermind.


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