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Blas F. Ople Policy Center

A Briefer on the Blas F. Ople Center’s Poster-Making Contest on Facebook Vs HumanTrafficking & Illegal Recruitment

Why Facebook?

Around 29 million Filipinos are on Facebook, making it the most efficient, affordable, and convenient channel to communicate reminders/alerts/relevant information concerning human trafficking and illegal recruitment.

Unfortunately, illegal recruiters and human traffickers have also discovered the exponential power of Facebook in the recruitment and victimization of Filipinos, especially women and minors. For example, a Filipino woman based in Manila was able to fleece her old high school classmates of their hard-earned money by making them think that she was working for a hotel in Canada. She requested each classmate to wire Twenty Thousand Pesos each (Php 20,000) to pay for visa and other administrative expenses. Of course, the job offer was spurrious and the “classmate” has never even to Canada.

The inter-connectivity of family and friends through Facebook has made it easier for human trafficking and illegal recruitment syndicates to use it to harm others. It’s time that we counter such offensives by using Facebook to remind everyone to check carefully before accepting job offers here and abroad.

What is the difference between illegal recruitment and human trafficking?

Every human trafficking case begins with the unlawful recruitment of people, but not every illegal recruitment case results in the trafficking of persons.

Some individuals and agencies recruit job applicants illegally just for profit under a take-the-money-and-run scheme. Under our laws, illegal recruitment also includes the non-issuance of BIR receipts to job applicants, excessive charging of placement fees, reprocessing of contracts, and other such technical violations of POEA rules and regulations.

On the other hand, human trafficking syndicates intentionally recruits a person illegally for the purpose of sex exploitation, forced labor trafficking or modern-day slavery, or the trafficking of human organs.

Three elements must be established in crimes involving human trafficking:

a. Acts : recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of person with or without the victim’s consent or knowledge;

b. Means: within or across national borders, by means of threat or use of force or coercion, abduction, fraud or deception, abuse of power or position, taking advantage of a person’s vulnerability, giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve consent of person having control over another person;

c. Purpose: for the purpose of exploitation or the prositution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor, or services, slavery, involuntary servitude or the removal or sale of organs.

What is the difference between human trafficking and forced labor trafficking?

Forced labor trafficking is part of human trafficking. It refers to the extraction of work or services from any person by means of enticement, violence, intimidation or threat, use of force or coercion, including deprivation of freedom, abuse of authority or moral ascendancy, debt-bondage or deception.

For example, when conflict in Syria broke out, the Philippine government had to negotiate for the freedom of Filipino domestic workers who were recruited illegally to work there. Based on some of the stories shared by the repatriated OFWs, it appears that quite a few of them are actual victims of forced labor trafficking: deployed without proper documents, forced to work under inhumane conditions (long hours of work, no restdays, unpaid or over-delayed salaries).

Who are the usual targets of human traffickers and illegal recruitment syndicates?

Human traffickers and illegal recruiters prey on the dreams of ordinary citizens to be able to work abroad and remit money to their families. Based on the usual cases handled by the Blas F. Ople Center, most of the victims belong to the non-skilled occupations: domestic workers, fishermen, farm hands, utility workers, drivers, and entertainers. Most worrisome are the women being recruited in the provinces and deployed through the backdoor (Zamboanga City airport or via ferry from Tawi-Tawi) who end up in brothels and nightclubs against their will.

Victims of illegal recruitment vary because some of them are gainfully employed but are looking for ways to migrate abroad as tourist-workers, and some even as mail order brides.

It is important therefore that we remind job applicants to always verify overseas job offers and be wary of promises too good to be true such as unreasonably high salaries, offers of quick deployment, and at no cost to the worker.

What is this Facebook Campaign VS Human Trafficking about?

It is a call to action for all job applicants and every citizen for that matter, to be wary about illegal recruitment and human trafficking activities on Facebook.

It lists down three hotlines that a job applicant can use to verify or inquire as to the legality of the job offer extended to him or her.

It invites ordinary citizens to become advocates against illegal recruitment and human trafficking by helping the Ople Center and The Asia Foundation in coming up with the best and most effective poster for its campaign.