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Friday, March 13, 2009

Ople Center cites taxi driver’s role in closure of bogus recruitment agency; calls on victims to do an “Orayan”

Former labor undersecretary Susan Ople called for citizens’ action versus illegal recruitment and human trafficking as she cited the help of Rogelio Orayan, a taxi driver that came forward with information that led to the closure of an illegal recruitment firm.

Two weeks ago, a female passenger suggested that the cab driver apply for an overseas job at an Ermita-based agency. On his day-off, the driver went to the agency and applied for a job. He was told to undergo a medical test. A few days after, the agency informed Orayan that he has been accepted but would need to pay a downpayment amounting to P20,000 out of a P65,000 placement fee. He was promised a job as a janitor aboard a Dubai-based ship. The agency had offices in three different buildings and was charging processing fees for non-existent jobs. It turned out that the POEA license of the agency has long been cancelled.

After hearing about the Ople Center’s campaign against illegal recruitment on a radio program, the taxi driver inquired from the Center whether the agency was legitimate. The Ople Center told the taxi driver not to part ways with his hard-earned money and referred him to the Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment under the Office of the Vice-President. In a matter of days, the Task Force and Orayon planned and executed a successful entrapment operation that led to the bogus agency’s closure.

It turned out that agency was no longer licensed to operate and accept payments from job applicants. The POEA license of the agency has long been cancelled.

“We are calling on those who have doubts about their recruiters to do an ‘Orayan’,” Ople said, during a media forum held yesterday morning at the Danarra Hotel. Orayan’s help and cooperation, the Center stressed, saved a lot of applicants from the elaborate schemes of the bogus agency.

According to Orayan, the office of the illegal recruiter was housed in a condo and had a long list of waiting clients, some of who admitted to forking over P160,000 in borrowed funds just to ensure that they are first to be deployed overseas.

The daughter of the late Foreign Affairs and Labor Secretary Blas F. Ople, acknowledged as the father of overseas employment, described illegal recruiters as “leeches” who attach themselves to the growing number of Filipinos now in desperate need of work.

“With more than 40,000 displaced workers and millions of unemployed Filipinos to choose from, these illegal recruiters and human traffickers are raking profits from the desperation of their countrymen.”

The Ople Center has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the POEA for a joint advocacy campaign against illegal recruitment. It has also reached an understanding with 1-UTAK, an organization of different transport groups, for a sticker campaign that would bear the hotlines of the POEA, NBI, BI, and Ople Center. The hotline of the Ople Center is 833-5337 while the POEA hotlines are 722-1144 & 722-1155. The Bureau of Immigration has its own hotline: 524-3769 while the NBI’s hotline is 523-8231.

“Our appeal is if you have any doubts at all about your recruiter or whoever is offering you an overseas job, call up the POEA, NBI or Ople Center hotlines. Before you leave the country, make sure that both your recruitment agency and foreign employer are accredited and considered in good standing by the POEA,” the Center stressed.

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