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‘Escort service’ for OFWs moved to Cebu, say recruiters

First Posted 12:41:00 03/04/2008

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MANILA, Philippines -- Illegal recruiters using immigration and airport officials to escort undocumented would-be overseas Filipino workers in the so-called escort service scheme have moved to the Cebu International Airport, an association of registered recruiters said Tuesday.

Raul De Vera Jr., president of the Associated Agencies Accredited to Cyprus, disclosed this in a letter to Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and sought for appropriate action.

De Vera said that over the past week, his office had received reports that undocumented OFWs arriving in Cyprus were using Cebu as the gateway to fly out of the country to the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

He asked Baldoz to inform Commissioner Marcelino Libanan of the Bureau of Immigration for ?proper action.?

De Vera said illegal recruitment syndicates have apparently transferred their operations to Cebu after the BI shut down its operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila.

Since Libanan?s assumption into office in 2007, the immigration chief said the bureau had successfully offloaded hundreds of ?tourist workers? suspected of leaving the country without the proper documents from the POEA.

Illegal recruiters lure would-be OFWs with promises of easy deployment abroad at no cost. Usually women, the victims end up working in sub-standard working conditions with low salaries. Often, their salaries are withheld as payment for the illegal recruitment syndicates. Some end working as prostitutes and bar girls in sleazy places in Southeast Asia.

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