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Illegal recruiters to face problems renewing their passports, Congen warns

16 January 2017

Congen Catalla
By Daisy CL Mandap

They could avoid being made to fully account for duping Filipino workers into shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for fake jobs abroad, but they could still end up losing their passports.
This warning was made by Consul General Bernardita Catalla, when asked what steps are being taken by the Consulate against those who face charges of victimizing their fellow Filipinos through massive recruitment scams.

Congen Catalla cited the example of a notorious recruiter who was arrested by Hong Kong police several years back on her return from Macau where she made about two dozen Filipino job applicants to wait for flights to Cyprus that never came.

The recruiter, who remains out on police bail, has reportedly applied to renew her Philippine passport, saying she needed to travel back home to visit her ailing father, but was spurned.
She then tried to appeal her case directly with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, but was also unsuccessful.

Congen Catalla said, “the case was referred back to us, so of course we stood by our decision”.
She said that the same fate could await Ester Ylagan, who faces multiple complaints at the Small Claims Tribunal for allegedly luring up to 500 Filipinos to pay between $10,000 and $15,000 for fake jobs in Canada and Britain.

“We could also reject her application for passport renewal if we find sufficient basis for it,” she said.
Authorities in the Philippines have reportedly been alerted about charges that Ylagan had extended her recruitment for the non-existent jobs to Filipinos living there, although the complainants are mainly based in Hong Kong, with a few in Macau.

If proven true, she could be indicted for human trafficking and massive illegal recruitment, which are both serious offences in the Philippines.

Ylagan has not been seen in public since the complaints against her started mounting in late June last year.

A representative she sent to attend tribunal hearings on her behalf has told the court that Ylagan had gone home to Manila to have eye surgery. More recently, she was reportedly seeking psychiatric consultation.

Consulate sources say Hong Kong authorities have confirmed that Ylagan left the territory sometime in August, but her exact whereabouts now are unknown.

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