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CG asks teachers for  help in war vs illegal recruiters

20 April 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

Hong Kong-based OFWs returning home to teach should tell the students, parents and other adults about the hardships and risks they would face if they work illegally abroad, Consul General Bernardita Catalla said.

Catalla warned that illegal recruitment was again on the rise, with Filipina domestic helpers in Hong Kong being lured with promises of high pay and better work conditions in countries like Russia and Turkey, where they often end up being victimized.

“Hanggang ngayon marami pa ring nai-illegal recruit. Dapat ipaalam natin kung ano ang buhay sa abroad, kung sino ang dapat nating paniwalaan, sino ang hindi dapat, in terms of yung recruitment process (Until now, many are still being recruited illegally. We should tell them how life is abroad, who we should listen to and who to avoid, in terms of recruitment process),” Catalla told about 75 aspiring teachers who took their oath on Mar 26 at the Consulate.

The consul general focused on illegal recruitment in her speech, as she disclosed her appointment as Philippine ambassador to Lebanon where, she said, 90% of Filipinos work illegally due to Manila’s 10-year old deployment ban to the Middle Eastern country.

Another country that has an existing ban on imported domestic workers is China, said Congen, but illegal recruiters have somehow still managed to get around the prohibition.

“May bagong imbensiyon sila ngayon, puwedeng mag-hire ng domestic workers ang high-salaried expats. Totoo, malaki ang suweldo pero magiging illegal naman kayo,” the consul general said.
The consul general advised the teachers to read about countries where they want to go, as it is important to know the laws and traditions of those places.
Catalla said she learned about the illegal recruitment problem in Lebanon when she started researching about her new post.
“Noong binabasa ko nga ang tungkol sa Lebanon, eh, ang laki ng binabayad sa atin, sila ang gagastos ng kanilang pamasahe, gagastos sila ng lahat, tapos hindi maganda ang kondisyon nila doon, di tulad sa Hong Kong. Nagtataka nga ako eh, bakit sila pupunta ng Lebanon?” she wondered.

Some illegal recruiters deployed Filipina helpers to Russia and Turkey and, as soon as the workers arrived in those countries, the agencies left them on their own.

“Pagdating doon, nagpupunta sila sa embahada at ang sasabihin ay galing sila sa Hong Kong. We have made representations with the Turkish consul general at medyo natigil na iyan,” Catalla said.

Catalla recalled that there was a Russian who used to recruit Filipinas for purported jobs in Russia or Turkey. When they got there, the Filipinas had to move from one employer to another and they were in worse conditions than in Hong Kong, she said.

“Kaya siguro isa na ang Hong Kong sa pinakamagandang lugar na pinatatrabahuhan dahil protected tayo,” Catalla said.

Yet there were still Filipinos who come to Hong Kong and use it as a springboard for illegal work on the mainland, Catalla said, citing two incidents just months ago.

First, in December last year, two Filipinas disappeared in Shenzhen while on a group tour and a CCTV review showed them being fetched by a man.

Then, in February this year, 14 OFWs were held by Chinese immigration at the border for over 24 hours after the 15th member of their tour group vanished.

Catalla said the Consulate asked its counterpart in Guangzhou to plead with the Chinese Foreign Ministry so that the Immigration officers would release the 14 or they would lose their jobs in Hong Kong.

“Malaki ang maitutulong ninyo, whether nandirito kayo or bumalik na kayo sa Pilipinas para maging mga guro. It is important na yung mga bata pa lang maimulat na sa ganitong mga issues, lalo na yung mga magulang o mga kapatid nila na adults at nagbabalak lumabas ng bansa na illegal, dahil ang bagsak natin ay kulungan, o katulad ng nangyari noong February, napaparusahan ang iba, mawawalan ng trabaho ang iba, dahil sa ginawa ng isang tao. Napapansin iyon ng immigration sa Guangzhou dahil nagkakaroon iyon ng pattern,” Catalla said.

These are things that the teachers know and need to impart to their colleagues in thhe Philippines, she added.

“Nagbabasa ako ng tungkol sa Lebanon at medyo ninerbiyos nga ako eh, 90% doon ay illegal. Iyon nga ho, tulungan nyo sana kami sa pagdi-disseminate ng information na ito,” she urged the teachers.
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