Avoid Becoming Trafficking Victims—Labatt
Image Caption: Celebrating in Moscow the end of Muslims’ month of fasting: note the amounts of food of two groups: recruiters and their victims
Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre says OFW jobseekers should have a questioning mind so that they don’t become easy prey to human traffickers.
He gave the advice in an online post on Oct 29 as he pushed his crusade against illegal recruiters and human traffickers who have been targeting Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Middle East for dubious jobs in Russia and elsewhere.
Nowadays, these traffickers are being emboldened by the use of social media like Facebook to “spread their tentacles across the globe”, Dela Torre said.
Labatt Dela Torre said human traffickers’ “effective business model” of recruiting vulnerable people and taking them to places “where institutions are weak or government positions are leveraged for personal gains” and abandon them or leave them on their own.
“These human traffickers keep the victims’ passports and continually put them under threat of violence, intimidation and denunciation to authorities,” the labor official said. “And (they) keep their victims on a leash to continue to fleece them.”
“Using Facebook as a communications, recruitment, payment and propaganda vehicle, (human traffickers) have used the popularity of this social networking app to spread their tentacles across the globe, and may even have links to terrorist groups,” he said.
Dela Torre said there are several ways for OFWs to help stop traffickers:
1) By spreading the word to your friends never to believe, much less allow yourselves, to be duped and recruited by these criminals;
2) Reporting to Facebook the messages of these criminals and their accomplices;
3) Inquiring from the authorities whether a recruitment going down in your community or neighbor is legitimate or not;
4) Reporting the crime to the nearest police authority;
5) Having been victimized and now overseas, denouncing the traffickers to our Embassy or Consulate;
6) Participating in campaigns against human trafficking and illegal recruitment.
Dela Torre said the success of human traffickers “depend very much on your credulity and your unquestioning willingness to believe.”
“The first essential step therefore is to just have a questioning frame of mind: is this legitimate or not? Is this good for me, or will it put me in harm’s way? Am I deciding on the basis of emotions, or am I using my rationality? Shouldn’t I consult with authorities first before making the jump? Isn’t the price I’m paying too much for the gain I’m expecting?”
He said illegal recruiters and human traffickers “rely on sweet promises and an aura of legitimacy to promote their business.”
“But you are smart enough to see through the pretence and the lies. You are intelligent enough to avoid them. You’re quick-thinking enough to act on your fears and suspicions. Stamp out human trafficking and illegal recruitment!” he said.
The labor attaché is currently leading a multi-territorial campaign to thwart a Moscow-based human trafficking syndicate led by a Pakistani-Filipino couple, Ahmed Sameer or Jon Meer on Facebook and his partner Kathleen Floresca Pimentel, that has recruited hundreds of OFWs to Russia.
These workers have paid at least US$3,500 to Meer for inexistent jobs, leaving the recruits jobless for months and buried in debt. Others who had gone out on their own have found part-time or full-time jobs but are working illegally using inappropriate visas.