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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ople Center Warns of Unabated Trafficking of Filipino Women to Malaysia

Press release

Blas F. Ople Center raised an alert on the growing number of cases involving the trafficking of Filipino women to Malaysia as it called on local governments to help stamp out human trafficking.

According to the Center, local “scouts” of Malaysian syndicates and recruiters have been penetrating residential areas particularly in the countryside in search for new victims.

“We are alarmed by the growing number of cases of women trafficked to Malaysia via our international airports. The illegal recruiters here and their Malaysian bosses in Kuala Lumpur and Sabah have developed a more sophisticated way of enticing women to work there illegally without even a shred of protection,” the Blas F. Ople Center reported. It added that some recruiters entice their unsuspecting victims with fake letters of invitations from employers or educational institutions that they in turn show to their families and concerned relatives. Upon arrival in Malaysia, these women are shocked to when forced to work long hours with little food or rest under abusive employers who refuse to give them salaries citing an agreement with their illegal recruiters.

Local government units should embark on an information campaign to prevent these syndicates from preying on their unsuspecting constituents. “Without the mayors and barangay officials knowing it, these scouts are knocking on doors, offering jobs under a fly now-pay later scheme that is just a euphemism for white slavery and exploitation of workers,” the non-government organization stressed. The Center offered to help LGUs in launching an anti-trafficking information and education campaign together with the POEA.

Former DoLE undersecretary Susan Ople, who now heads the Center, noted that the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur recently sent home 24 victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment. Of the 24 workers, at least 15 of them were victims of a single human trafficking syndicate that has been recruiting women from rural areas. Most of the victims were fresh graduates and single mothers who were desperate to earn money for their families.

“The Ople Center appeals to job seekers especially women to be on guard against the handiwork of these syndicates. When in doubt please ask the POEA before accepting job offers abroad.”

Ople Center has been working closely with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Bureau of Immigration, Department of Justice and Department of Foreign Affairs in the fight against illegal recruitment and human trafficking. Last month, the Center signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the POEA for a joint advocacy against human trafficking.

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