The couple God Prey and Janice Santos of San Roque Bitas, Arayat, Pampanga, went to Bantay OCW at Radyo Inquirer to complain that they were duped by illegal recruiters who promised them jobs as seasonal workers in Rome, Italy, in exchange of P340,000 each.
In a complaint filed with a Pampanga prosecutor, the couple named Edna Musngi and her daughters Ma. Vanessa Musngi Pineda and Shiela Marie Musngi as those who squeezed them of the huge amount.
Janice alleged that she forwarded her initial payment of P120,000 to Vanessa in Italy in May 2010. She recalled Vanessa had encouraged her to apply for placement for her husband as well. So the couple borrowed P60,000 from an aunt of hers in Germany and P60,000 from her husband’s cousin in Paris to raise the amount.
Edna, Janice further alleged, had told them their application would be facilitated by one Merly Mendoza, owner of a recruitment agency. Sheila reportedly egged the couple on, telling them she herself was an applicant and they would fly to Italy together.
It was July 2010 when the couple completed their payments. Aside from tapping relatives, they sold their properties and borrowed from lending companies. Last week of that month, Vanessa allegedly informed them that their nulla osta or certificates of no impediments (required for visas related to family unification, marriage or work) had been released and would soon be sent to them. But they needed to pay the remaining balance.
By August, the couple claimed they had sent more than P720,000 to Vanessa and a certain Rossvy Calma in Italy through a remittance center, excluding transfer charges of almost P100,000. The couple received their clearance documents on August 9, 2010.
Edna reportedly assured them they would be in Italy soon. She then instructed them to meet a certain Jaime Fulgencio, who would assist them in getting their visa from the Italian embassy and other necessary travel requirements, according to Janice. Jaime reportedly charged them P30,000 each.
The couple met up with Jaime along Avenida, near Recto Avenue, Manila. They handed him P30,000 as partial payment. No receipt was issued.
Jaime, their story goes, accompanied them to get their medical examinations on August 16, 2010. He also accompanied them for a training session at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda). He made the arrangements to send their application to the Italian Embassy though the accredited courier. Visa processing, he told them, would take about one month.
But after two months, their visas had not been released. Janice e-mailed a query to the Italian embassy. The embassy replied that it was still waiting for confirmation of their nulla osta.
Early 2011, there was still no update or clarification regarding their visa application. They said Edna and Vanessa had told them there was a delay in their application because of some technicality.
But Janice was starting to worry. She e-mailed Merly, who replied that there was no need to panic because the agency was already fixing the problem.
In April 2011, the couple learned that Edna’s other applicants were denied visas and their passports were returned.
At the Italian embassy, they were told that their nulla osta were discovered to be fake. God Prey received his passport back in September 2011 with a letter stating that his visa application had been denied.
The couple no longer got responses to their frantic e-mail messages to Vanessa, Edna and Merly.
Last March, the Santoses went to the National Bureau of Investigation for help.
They have also filed a complaint against their alleged recruiters with the prosecutors of the Regional Trial Court in Pampanga.
Bantay OCW tried to get in touch with their alleged recruiters but the overseas numbers were no longer active.
We hope the Santos couple can still get their money back. Their dreams of a better life for their family abroad were ruined by illegal recruiters.