Italian lawyer hired for 100 Filipinos ‘duped’ by recruiters
MANILA, Philippines — Criminal cases will soon be filed against those involved in the alleged fraud and illegal recruitment of Filipinos who paid exorbitant placement and consultancy fees in exchange for what turned out to be nonexistent jobs in Italy, according to the Philippine Consulate General in Milan.
The consulate, in a statement, said cases of aggravated fraud against Alpha Assistenza SRL would be filed by Italian lawyer Bruno de Blasi, who was hired by the Philippine government to represent some 100 complainants based in Italy.
“The complainants represent a total of 269 Filipinos in the Philippines who were said to have been made to pay at least 3,000 euros (about P180,000) each for jobs in Italy under the decreto flussi program that later turned out to be nonexistent,” the consulate said.
According to ItaliaHello, a nonprofit organization that helps migrants and refugees, decreto flussi is an Italian government law that sets quotas on how many non-European citizens may enter Italy for work.
The consulate said De Blasi met with complainants shortly after he and Consul General Elmer Cato signed the contract that would allow him to represent them before Italian courts.
The hiring of a lawyer to represent complainants in Italy was among the recommendations made by Cato to the Department of Foreign Affairs after the consulate started receiving requests for assistance.
The consulate said De Blasi was awarded the contract to provide legal services to the complainants in Milan and nearby areas after submitting the “most competitive bid” among the four lawyers who expressed interest in the case.
The recommendation was made a few days after the consulate launched an investigation into the complaints filed by several individuals against Alpha Assistenza chief executive officer Diane Krizelle Respicio.
In Manila, 48 victims of an alleged recruitment scam filed illegal recruitment and estafa complaints against Respicio and several other respondents before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday.
The victims sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation after they were made to pay the fees on an installment basis supposedly for their work permits.
In proper forum
The victims claimed they were encouraged to apply because of the promise of a speedy application process by a Filipino-operated management agency that was quite popular among the members of the Filipino community in Italy.
Respicio, through legal counsel Charlie Pascual, denied the allegations in a GMA report, saying the company was willing to answer the allegations in the proper forum.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla earlier said the DOJ would help the victims draft complaints and file their affidavits.
“If it is swindling, estafa, large-scale estafa, qualified theft or whatever cases they are, we will draw out the truth,” he said.