POEA officials charged with human trafficking, corruption

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 10 2011 09:12 PM | Updated as of Jan 11 2011 10:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Officials of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and 3 recruitment agencies were charged before the Department of Justice (DOJ) Monday for alleged human trafficking and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The complainant, who asked ABS-CBN News to temporarily withhold his name for security reasons, is an employee of the POEA.

The complainant claims to have personal knowledge of the alleged violations of respondents Atty. Alejandro A. Padaen, Director IV for Adjudication; Atty. Jesus Gabriel C. Domingo, Director II for Legal Research, Docket, and Enforcement Branch; Atty. Marieta S. Labong dela Cruz, Attorney V, of the Docket and Enforcement Division; Ernesto B. Vistro, Administrative Aide VI (Sheriff); Nascel Gabito, Web Administrator, and the following recruitment agency officers:

  • Edgardo D. Wisco of Worldview International Services Corporation of Malate, Manila;
  • Marichu G. Elagha of Future Careers Recruitment Agency, Inc. of Ermita, Manila; and
  • Amelita V. Villarosa of Shanlene Manpower and Recruitment Services of Malate, Manila.

The complaint alleged that "a total of 100 overseas Filipino workers [OFWs] were deployed in the year 2010 by the three (3) named agencies whose licenses were already cancelled by the POEA but whose penalty were not implemented by the respondents, head and officials of the POEA Adjudication Office and the Docket and Enforcement Branch, who are charged with the execution and release of orders issued against erring agencies and principals, within 15 days and, in fact, transmitted at least 30 days after signing by the POEA Administrator because the respondents intentionally, and for very long periods, conspired in the non-implementation of said orders to facilitate more deployment by agencies no longer authorized to deploy because of recruitment violations."

The complaint listed the names of OFWs deployed in the said period by these agencies, copies of cancellation orders signed by the POEA administrator, and proof of release of the orders from the Office of the Administrator to respondents. Proof of late implementation by the respondents were also attached as evidence.

"There was human trafficking because OFWs were actually transported and recruited for overseas employment with the clear intent of exploiting them through forced labor and involuntary servitude as evidence by previous complaints against the same private respondents," the complaint read.

"These OFWs were subjected to exploitation, forced labor, some of them to prostitution, they were not paid, not fed," said Assistant City Prosecutor Raymond Jonathan Lledo, National Task Force chairman of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).

The complaint further alleged that "as a result of the wilful failure to execute the signed orders, actual exploitation and repatriation cases were docketed in the POEA Repatriation Unit." It also named 3 OFWs who are subject of repatriation, including information of their respective cases.

The complaint said fraud was involved in the deployment of the OFWs, as the licenses of the said agencies should have already been cancelled following proven offenses and the existence of signed cancellation orders.

However, "the subject agencies were advertised by the POEA as in good standing," it said.

"We at IACAT will be conducting an in-depth investigation of this problem because we believe this is only the tip of the iceberg; we would also like to uncover past offenses which serve as hindrances to our anti-human trafficking efforts," Lledo said.

The complainant also asked that respondents be imposed preventive suspensions "to prevent the commission of any further acts complained of" and to be able to secure original documents pertinent to the case.