MANILA -- Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday diclosed a supposed human trafficking scheme perpetrated by an alleged "Chinese mafia" who recruit Filipinos as "scammers" in Myanmar.
Hontiveros cited the testimonies of 12 Filipinos rescued from the alleged syndicate operating in Myanmar.
"Sila ay napangakuan ng trabaho sa isang call center, bilang customer service representative, o di kaya ay data encoder. Yan kasi ang original na job listing: call center agent. Ngunit, pagdating nila sa Thailand, kung saan inaakala nilang magtatrabaho sila, hinila sila ng mga alagad ng Chinese mafia na ito sa Myanmar upang gawing mga scammer na gumagamit ng crypto currency," the senator said during a privilege speech.
According to Hontiveros, the victims were starved and were not given salaries if they fail to scam individuals.
"Kapag wala silang na-scam o nahuthutan sa pamamagitan ng crypto, hindi sila pinapakain, hindi sila pinapasweldo, ibinebenta sila sa ibang kompanya, at higit sa lahat, pinagbabantaan ang kanilang buhay," Hontiveros said.
Citing statements from the victims, Hontiveros said the syndicate wants an "all-Filipino team" of scammers due to their proficiency in the English language.
"This is of extreme importance and urgency. This Chinese mafias are making the Philippines an incubator of scammers... We are not and will never be known as a nation of scammers," Hontiveros pointed out.
Hontiveros called on concerned government agencies to act on the matter.
"I appeal to you all, and to all the government agencies who are able to help us: if we don’t plug this hole, more and more of our kababayan will be duped, and more and more people all over the world will be scammed," she warned.
"Kaya, mga kababayan, maging mapagmatyag po tayo kapag may nagmemessage sa atin na hindi natin kilala, kahit sa LinkedIn," the senator added.