DOLE-12 heightens campaign vs illegal recruitment, human trafficking

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/8 Nov) – In a bid to address the cases of illegal recruitment and human trafficking in Region 12, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is set to launch a series of awareness and advocacy campaigns next week in various parts of the region.

Chona Mantilla, DOLE Region 12 director, said a team from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) central office will visit the region on Nov. 14 to 16 to conduct trainings and awareness sessions on the agency’s enhanced anti-illegal recruitment and human trafficking drive.

She said the POEA team will specifically hold capability-enhancement trainings for personnel of the region’s local government units as well as pre-employment seminars for local residents.

Mantilla said they will also sign a memorandum of understanding with the Tacurong City government for the strengthening of the campaign in the area.

“POEA is coming in to reinforce our campaigns (on illegal recruitment and human trafficking),” she said in a radio interview.

Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Mantilla said the present cases of human trafficking in the region is not considered alarming but noted that there is a need to clamp down on the rampant illegal recruitment activities in the area, especially in remote areas.

“There are still some residents who are lured by these sweet-talking illegal recruiters, who usually promise lucrative jobs abroad that are non-existent,” she said.

In June, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and concerned government agencies rescued 71 victims of human trafficking, 30 of whom came from the region, from a recruitment agency operating in Davao and Butuan cities.

Mantilla said the rescue was facilitated by members of the area’s regional interagency council against trafficking (RIACAT).

Earlier this year, NBI agents also rescued 16 human trafficking victims while their recruiter was trying to secure their clearances at the NBI regional office in Koronadal City.

Mantilla said the usual victims of illegal recruitment in the region were residents who were desperate to work abroad but were not aware of the legal procedures and related government regulations.

She cautioned residents who want to work overseas to refrain from entertaining offers from recruiters who require placement fees and other payments but could not present official receipts.

“You can easily verify with our office if a certain recruitment agency and their overseas job offers are legal and actually exist. We have a list of accredited recruiters and agencies that carry existing job orders,” she said.

The official said their advocacy drives on anti-illegal recruitment and human trafficking in the region are currently ongoing and they have already gone down to the barangay level in the last several months.

She said they have so far conducted 168 barangay awareness and advocacy campaigns and has so far reached out to 24,177 residents within the region. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)