THE biggest organized legitimate recruitment agencies have taken a strong position against human trafficking as they lobbied for support and active participation of local government units in curbing illegal recruitment victimizing hapless workers seeking overseas employment.
In a dialogue with Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano early this week, the Coalition of Licensed Agencies for Domestic and Service Workers (CLADS) and the Overseas Placement Association of the Philippines (OPAP) lamented the lack of substantial results in the government’s drive against illegal recruitment and human trafficking that had placed licensed and legitimate agencies in a bad light for years.
They cited cases of thousands of undocumented workers who were able to leave the country, and the hundreds held at airports for possession of fake travel papers and work visas. The groups deplored the proliferation of illegal recruiters, who not only compete with them but also damage their reputation.
They said the licensed recruitment agencies are also victims of the large-scale illegal recruitment and human trafficking in the country. Names of agencies are being illegally used, particularly in social media to recruit workers, without their knowledge and consent.
Earlier complaints to government agencies concerned remained unaddressed and illegal recruiters continue their operations.
CLADS is the biggest country-specific organization of recruitment agencies.
It counts as members agencies with deployment in 22 countries with concentration in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The group has deployed over six million workers in the last three years.
Both CLADS and OPAP support the President’s move to create a new department for overseas workers.
In their meeting with Ano, the officers of the two groups noted the initiatives taken by the government to address violence against women and children, and human trafficking which the DILG has brought to the local and barangay levels.
The DILG chief committed to request the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to convene the Task Force Against Human Trafficking.
CLADS asked Ano for the support of local government units even as it expressed willingness to help DILG spread awareness on proper recruitment procedures at the barangay level to stamp out illegal recruitment operations in the provinces.
The groups also said they are prepared to formalize their cooperation with DILG and other agencies to combat human trafficking and illegal recruitment.