AIR helps protect overseas Filipinos

DUBAI - The Anti-Illegal Recruitment (AIR) Branch of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in Manila, although working on a limited budget, continues to give protection and assistance to the prospective overseas Filipino workers as well as to the victims of illegal recruitment, said a top POEA official.

By Ramona Ruiz

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Published: Sun 1 Feb 2004, 12:38 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:36 PM

Replying to some claims from Filipinos in Dubai that the POEA's anti-illegal recruitment task force should be revived, POEA Administrator Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz told Khaleej Times that from the time the Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch (AIRB) was created, it has been functioning as the lead office in its nationwide campaign against illegal recruitment.

"Although the appropriation was discontinued after the president's direct veto in the year 2000 by reason of the absence of legal basis for the appropriation embodied in the labour code as well as in R.A. 8042 (otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995), the POEA, through the Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch and other concerned units has not ceased in the implementation of a nationwide AIR campaign. However, we have not ceased our efforts for the amendment of the above-mentioned laws to include the budget component for the AIR campaign."

The POEA chief explained that from the period 1989 to 1999, the POEA was given a budget equivalent to 10 per cent of the total income of the office as a special fund for the AIR campaign. The initial amount was 4.5 million pesos but at one time reached 14 million pesos, in view of the increasing income of the POEA.

The AIRB is likewise involved in the prosecution of illegal recruiters, conduct of special operations such as surveillance of suspected illegal recruiters and closure of establishments used in the conduct of illegal recruitment activities. She said: "There is a decrease in the number of victims of illegal recruitment owing to the AIR information seminars conducted for the year 2003 in several key cities in the country." From January to July 2003, a total of 30,267 Filipino workers were deployed to the UAE. Of the total victims for illegal recruitment as for the year 2003, only 91 workers or victims were from the UAE, according to the AIRB. For the year 2003, the branch had received 866 cases involving 1,625 victims as compared to 730 cases and 1,902 victims for 2002.

As for recruitment violations, there were 4,938 victims in 2002 and 3,748 for 2003. "To effectively safeguard the interests and protect the would-be OFWs from illegal recruiters, there should be a sustained campaign on the evils of illegal recruitment and how to avoid becoming a victim of unscrupulous recruiters, as well as the remedies available to victims of illegal recruitment. This cannot be done by the government alone but needs the support and cooperation of the private sector," she maintained.

Mrs Baldoz said that the POEA is continuously intensifying its campaign against illegal recruitment. This is done by networking with schools, church groups and NGOs, equipping them with information, which they disseminate to their constituents. There is also a 24-hour hotline (00632-7221144 and 7221155) where people can enquire on overseas employment and log in their complaints against illegal recruiters.



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