Binay urges OFWs to avoid Syria

By Jose Rodel Clapano, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 17 2012 03:12 AM | Updated as of Jul 17 2012 11:12 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay appealed yesterday to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) not to enter Syria to avoid being caught in the crossfire of an ongoing civil war.

Binay, presidential adviser on OFWs concerns, also ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to intensify the campaign against illegal recruiters that are getting workers to be deployed to Syria.

The BI and POEA are part of the anti-trafficking task force, which is also headed by Binay.

“The Vice President issued the order to all agencies, especially the BI and POEA which are part of the anti-trafficking task force, to intensify the campaign against illegal recruiters to Syria. He also reiterated his warning to OFWs not to go to Syria,” Binay’s spokesman Joey Salgado said.

Binay went yesterday to Tokyo, Japan to keynote the Secure Asia 2012 cyber security conference.

“I consider the Tokyo conference a welcome opportunity to broaden (our) own familiarity with the more complex issues of cyber security, and enlarge the network of experts that our government could call on for assistance, in case of need,” Binay said.

The two-day event, dubbed, “[email protected]: Meeting the Challenges of a Dynamic Connected Future,” brings together senior representatives from academe, government and industry to “identify solutions to the threats organizations face today and to plan for a secure connected future.”

Binay said that cyber security is for all countries and not just a concern of developed nations alone.

He cited the recently concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which reiterated the need to intensify regional security in the use of information and communication technology.

Binay said the ASEAN forum also recommended the development of strategies to address emerging threats in cyberspace, and the enhancement of cooperation in bringing a culture of cyber security.

Binay expects to meet high government officials in Tokyo to discuss “ways and means of improving Philippine-Japanese relations, particularly in the area of investments, trade and culture.”

He said he would also try to entice private Japanese investors to invest in the Philippines.

“I am traveling with a small group of private businessmen who will be meeting with prospective Japanese investors and CEOs, whom I shall ask to take a fresh and wider look at their prospects for more meaningful investments in the Philippines,” Binay said.

POEA bares bogus job consultants

The POEA warned nurses and caregivers to watch out for fly-by-night immigration consultants who offer jobs in Canada and United States without placement fees.

POEA chief Hans Cacdac said they have uncovered a new scheme by illegal recruiters who start with offers through email to nurses and caregivers regarding jobs in a prestigious medical facility in Canada or the US.

“The email is supposedly from Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Ontario, Canada which informs the recipient of her selection as staff nurse and/or caregiver, and details on the application procedure and payment process,” Cacdac noted.

Cacdac said the job offer could be hard to refuse for those aspiring to work abroad since the worker allegedly would not be charged any fees, except for “visa interview coaching” and P5,000 medical examination.

“No placement fee. No processing fee. No salary deduction. No showmoney. No experience required. Free accommodation and food allowance,” Cacdac said, detailing the email sender’s assurances to the applicant.

Based on the introduction of the letter, it was apparently copied from the actual website of Stevenson Memorial Hospital while sender David R. Purvis used a hushmail.com free email account instead of the hospital’s Internet domain name smhosp.on.ca.

Cacdac said by examining the e-mail you can easily conclude that the offer was part of an employment scam.

“These scammers have access to personal data of applicants in job search sites and any email informing an applicant of being selected for a specific job he or she did not apply for is undoubtedly a recruitment scam,” Cacdac noted.

The POEA chief stressed that immigration consultants cannot engage in the recruitment and placement of Filipino workers for overseas jobs unless they have a license from the POEA.

“If they do not have license from POEA they are violating laws on illegal recruitment,” Cacdac said, noting that applicants for Canada need not pay hefty fees for advice on working visa from immigration consultants because they are readily available at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website http://www.cic.gc.ca.

He said all the forms and information needed to apply for a visa are available for free at the website.

Cacdac said the Stevenson case is similar to one allegedly from Fraser Health that also recruits nurses and caregivers through email for supposed employment in Canada and asks applicants to pay P3,750 for “Canadian embassy interview coaching.”

Cacdac said he already ordered the POEA anti-illegal recruitment branch to investigate whether the two are related or operated by the same group of scammers.

He said the real Fraser Health in Canada, which uses their domain name fraserhealth.ca, has denied the email came from them.

Cacdac urged job applicants who have received such recruitment emails to forward the same to [email protected] for verification and proper action by the POEA. – With Mayen Jaymalin