Traffickers use barangay tanods to harass FDH families

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DILG Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Ano

THE Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) has asked the help of  Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Ano after Filipino domestic workers in Russia complained that suspected human traffickers were using barangay tanods to harass their families back home.

Former Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre said the POLO had written to Ano to investigate the barangay officers after one worker, identified as Michelle, complained that her family in Caloocan City was being harassed.

“We have written to the Secretary of Interior and Local Government and we have asked him to investigate those cases. Michelle said her family was being harassed by suspected human traffickers with the help and assistance of barangay tanods,” Dela Torre said in an interview before he was recalled to Manila.

“They have probably bribed the barangay tanods. We wrote Secretary Ano and our congressman representing overseas Filipino workers had also written him,” he said.

Dela Torre said Michelle’s in-laws were forced to sign a promisory note and to surrender their certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) so that Michelle would pay her supposed remaining balance of more than P200,000.

“You can’t use the CLOA as security because that is a certificate under the land reform program,” Dela Torre said.

He said Michelle was now back in the Philippines after dropping by Hong Kong last month to give her sworn statement to the Hong Kong Police and the immigration and labor departments.

“She already made the statement and that is now being assessed by the police. They will decide whether to file charges in court,” he said.

Dela Torre said the case to be filed would be overcharging since Hong Kong still does not have an anti-human trafficking law.

Michelle was made to pay $15,000 before she was deployed to Russia, where she was left on her own to find a job. Her recruiter is still pestering her to pay more than P200,000.

“There is still another worker who is in the Philippines who willing to come back so that she could testify against her recruiter,” Dela Torre said.

Dela Torre said the worker was one of around 5,000 OFWs who went to Russia in search of better jobs but ended up in a worse situation.

“There was really no job waiting for them there. The agencies that sent them were just recruiting and deploying but there was no placement. And so, the OFWs themselves had to look for a job when they got there,” he said.

“And even when they find a job with good pay, they find out that their living expenses are also high. There’s no ‘live-in’ there,” he added.

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