MANILA, Philippines - The process of speeding up the departure of outbound Filipino workers has in turn helped in the surge of human trafficking cases in Philippine airports, a recruitment consultant said.
Emmanuel Geslani, the consultant, urged the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to re-impose the validation system, which was scrapped last year to expedite the processing of OFWs.
The POEA on March 2008 dropped the validation of documents of OFWs leaving through the Labor Assistance Center (LAC) to further streamline processes in overseas deployment. This resulted in an increase in OFW deployment in the following quarter.
Geslani said the function of validating exit or e-receipt is a key process that keeps syndicates from trafficking overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). He said without such measures at LAC, efforts to curb human trafficking would be “feeble" if not “useless."
“The POEA has no direct way of accurately validating and recording genuine-POEA-processed OFW deployment. It is highly probable that many such documents are fabricated," he said.
In response, POEA chief Jennifer Manalili said they are studying the proposal to revive the validation of OFW work documents and ensure that workers would not be trafficked overseas.
Interviewed by GMANews.TV, Manilili said the POEA and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) would begin sharing information to trace the validity of an OFW’s work permit as well as the record of his/her recruiter.
The labor assistance counter remained open 24/7, but its services were limited to assisting OFWs with documentation problems, issuing overseas employment certificates (OEC) to OFWs leaving the country within 24 hours, and dissemination of information and education materials to OFWs and families. [See: POEA eases OFW exit procedure at airports]
Despite having laws against human trafficking, the Philippines has been included in the US watch list of countries suspected of not doing enough to combat the illegal migration of people.
In its ninth Trafficking in Persons report, the US State Department included the Philippines along with 51 other countries on their list.
Washington’s move to expand the watch list came as officials said the world financial crisis has left more people at risk for the crime.
If a country appears on the list for two consecutive years, it can be subject to US sanctions.
Seventeen nations, up from 14 in 2008, are now subject to the trafficking sanctions, which can include a ban on non-humanitarian and trade-related aid and US opposition to loans and credits from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The penalties can be waived if the president determines it is in US national interest to do so. - GMANews.TV