MANILA, Philippines – Illegal recruiters work in a such a way that the jobs they offer to potential victims appear to be a big favor from them, an advocate of OFWs said.
“Some OFWs think that applying for a job overseas is like asking for a favor. It's not. Its a transaction between you and an employer overseas and then the recruitment agency that's supposed to be the bridge,” Susan Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center said.
Most illegal recruiters gain the trust of their targets by first befriending them and sweet-talking them into taking their offer of work abroad.
“Kaya nga yung mga illegal recruiters they sometimes refer to themselves as tita, si ate, si kuya. It’s like they're indebted simply because this person wants to help them go abroad,” said Ople.
They usually set their sights on the most vulnerable families who would go through any lenghts just to provide a future a little brighter that what they have now.
“If they are victims of illegal recruitments, they end up losing P100,000 to P300,000,” said Ople.
She said she knew some OFWs from central Luzon who sold their farmlands for a chance to work abroad.
“Some of them are heavily indebted prior to leaving the country. Some of them go to relatives and ask for personal loans at a high interest rates,” she said.
The financial cost of going abroad is already high. This could go higher if the OFW falls victim to illegal recruiters.
On top of the mandatory fees that potential OFWs have to pay under the law like Pag-Ibig and Philhealth, they also need to settle the Predeparture Orientation Seminar, passport, and other clearances.
“There are countries that have hidden costs like in Taiwan, they have brokers and these brokers drive up the cost of recruitment. They dictate. Even if they know this shouldn’t be the case, they still do so because they want to leave the country,” she explained.
Ople urged potential overseas workers to research first the job that they want to apply for and the recruitment agency they want to tap.
With the help of the internet, one can now easily verify the authenticity of a recruitment agency. She added those who don’t know how to use a computer can simply go to any internet shop and ask the attendant to help them in researching the background of a certain agency.
“Research, research, research. For P20, you can ask the staff of an internet cafe to help you research. They can also ask us and we’ll find out for them,” she said, referring to the Ople Center.
When it comes to money matters, Ople advised those who are already working abroad that “setting aside money for yourself is not a bad thing”.
“I wouldn't advise OFWs to send everything home. You also have an obligation to yourself to prepare for your own needs when you come home,” she said. ANC