MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday called for a crackdown on illegal recruitment as he lamented abuses faced by Filipino migrant workers.
Duterte asked the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development to go after illegal recruiters as he likened them to drug traffickers.
"My orders are really to get them," he said during his speech at the awarding of child-friendly cities and municipalities in Malacañang.
The President specifically asked Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista to "do more" in addressing the illegal recruitment of Filipinos overseas.
"I am sending him a message now that you have to do more, to go after the (illegal) recruitment," the President told Bautista, who was among the attendees of the event.
As a former commander of the Philippine Army, Bautista should "know where to fish for them (illegal recruiters) and return them to the water because they are fish," Duterte said.
"Since you are a military man, then I can hope you can come up with a structure, a bigger one, to go after itong recruitment and so goes for the Department of Labor [and Employment] and everybody," the President added.
In a separate speech on Thursday, Duterte likened illegal recruiters to drug peddlers.
"Kayong mga recruiter, I am putting you on the level na parang shabu rin," he said.
"Galit ako talaga sa mga recruiter na ginawang g*g* ang Pinoy. Diyan ako galit, at puwede talaga kita talagang patayin sa nangyayari sa Pilipino," he added.
(I am really angry at recruiters who make Filipinos look like fools. I could kill you with what's happening to the Filipinos.)
Earlier this year, Duterte also promised to establish an executive department that would handle matters concerning Filipino migrant workers by December.
He also promised to put the recruitment of Filipinos under government supervision, arguing that the practice has been abused by private firms.
Over 10 million Filipinos are abroad, and their remittances are a lifeline to the Philippine economy.
Filipino migrants often grapple with labor issues and recruitment woes while some need legal assistance for alleged involvement in criminal activity.