200 Dabawenyos victimized by illegal recruiters in Manila

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 Sep) – Almost 200 Dabawenyos are now stranded in Manila after they were promised employment in Japan by three illegal recruiters early this month.

In a press conference at the Marco Polo Hotel Tuesday, Ople Center deputy executive director Jerome Alcantara said that around 50 of them are currently staying at the Occupational Safety and Health Center of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Manila while mostly stayed with their relatives or have found temporary employment.

“They applied for other jobs because all of their savings were paid to the illegal recruiters, so they could not go back to their homes yet,” he said.

He named the suspects as Osmando Habilag, owner of Habilag Travel and Tours; Alejandro Navaro, owner of a training center; and Veraflor delos Reyes, their contact person in Davao City.

Habilag was arrested about two weeks ago in Cavite while the police are still hunting for Navaro and Delos Reyes, according to Alcantara.

Alcantara said police believe that Delos Reyes, who recruited the Dabawenyos to Manila, is still hiding in Davao.

He said the victims, who have certificates from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), learned of the supposed employment opportunity in Japan four months ago through a job posting on social media site Facebook.

Alcantara said that they were convinced by the illegal recruiters since they were able to provide documents, making their operation appear legal.

He said each victim, he added, paid the illegal recruiters from P80,000 to P180,000.

Alcantara said the victims sought their help when the illegal recruiters failed to show up in their supposed meeting at the Philippine Overseas and Employment Agency (POEA) before leaving for Japan early this month.

The suspects could no longer be reached since then, he said.

Alcantara said his group, as well as DOLE, are supporting the victims find jobs. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)