Fighting Illegal Recruitment
By Johanne Margarette R. Macob
ASIDE from all the festivals- Bagoong, Sigay, Talong- happening in the province these days, there is another reason for us, Pangasinans, to celebrate.
Recently, I learned from Provincial Employment and Services Office (PESO) head, Sir Alex Ferrer that the number of illegal recruitment cases has declined sharply last year, compared to 2013.
The 74 cases in 2013 were down to 40 in 2014. This is a big achievement in securing the OFWs, our modern heroes. I’ve tried looking for counterpart national statistics but I could not find any updated stats. Anyway, at least we are certain that in Pangasinan, the issue is being addressed by the provincial government thanks to a number of initiatives taken by the Pangasinan PESO to ensure this.
First, the conduct of numerous jobs fairs in coordination with licensed agencies apparently have prevented the locals from becoming potential victims of illegal recruiters. If my memory serves me right, at least two jobs fair are being organized by the PESO every month.
Second, the organization of the OFW family associations in all the 48 towns contributed to the more than 50% decrease. Through these associations, OFW families have an active group to tap for queries and any other assistance regarding employment, etc.
Third, there is the OFW desk ready with information 24/7. It provides info through seminars, posters and hotline.
Then there is the ongoing “Bantay Barangay” mapping project that will establish a database on all tOFWs in the province. This will eventually lead to a better monitoring of the Pangasinan OFWs.
With all these continuing efforts of the Capitol, I believe cases of illegal recruitment and even of trafficking of persons in the province will likely end. Of course, this can only happen if we all do our part, too. One sure way to do that is to remind prospective jobseekers overseas to check if their recruiter is in the updated Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s list of legitimate recruitment agencies. Another way is to encourage them to coordinate with the PESO or any other concerned government agency.
I also hope our trial courts do their share as well by acting speedily on cases filed against illegal recruiters.
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