MANILA, Philippines - Fifty-four illegal recruitment victims, including a 16-year-old girl, were rescued on Wednesday by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Blas F. Ople Center, Vice-President Jejomar Binay said.
Binay, in a press statement, said the victims, who are all women, were bound for Syria and Qatar "under anomalous circumstances."
"I am glad that we were able to prevent our kababayans from leaving our country and falling victim to illegal recruitment," Binay said.
"Once again, I call on all Filipinos to be vigilant and not to let themselves be victimized," he added.
Binay said the women were rescued at a house in Singalong, Manila. The women slept on wooden floors inside the house, he revealed.
The victims named a Syrian as the financier and head of the syndicate. They were allegedly recruited by different agents based in the Visayas and Mindanao.
They were promised jobs as household service workers with a monthly salary of US $200 a month, which violates the $400 minimum wage for domestic helpers abroad, according to Binay.
The women said they were also offered jobs as household workers in Syria, where a deployment ban is currently in place due to armed conflict in the country.
"Under these conditions, we cannot allow them to leave the country. It is our duty to ensure and protect their well-being," Binay said.