Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III has urged the Department of Labor and Management (DOLE) to launch a crackdown on Filipino and American human trafficking syndicates preying on “American-dreamers” and charge as high as $7,000 per victim.
Tañada sounded his call during a hearing on Wednesday by the House Committee on Overseas Workers that took up the ordeal of 11 Filipinos who were “duped into accepting an employment offer by Manila-based ADMAN Human Resources, Placement, and Promotions of $7.25 per hour work contracts in Virginia and Colorado.
But the 11 Filipinos, upon arrival in the US late last year, had not been given the jobs and salaries promised them, and instead experienced hunger pangs for several days, made to work in Mississippi under conditions bordering on slavery, ending up as the newest additions to the growing number of human trafficking victims in the US.
“We can confirm that this is a clear-cut case of human trafficking by ADMAN with a possible connivance of a large, Philadelphia-based corporation specializing in human trafficking of Filipinos dreaming of getting jobs in the US,” Tañada said.
Tañada had met with the 11 victims more than a year ago and initiated House measures that eventually resulted in legal victory for the victims. However, spurious procedures in the filing of surety bonds had made it impossible for victims to claim their legal right for restitution.
“Perhaps we should check on the properties of former directors of the padlocked ADMAN agency as a start as we determine other ways to provide monetary assistance to the 11 victims,” he said.
Tañada has asked Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) to go deeper into the human trafficking cases and determine the extent of the operations “because this cannot happen without the help of labor and embassy personnel from both the Philippines and the US.
During the hearing, POEA head Hans Leo Cacdac disclosed there are two other human trafficking syndicates also operating in the US employing schemes similar to ADMAN’s, whose license had been revoked here and its board directors placed on derogatory listing.
Cacdac told the House overseas workers committee that the labor department, through his office, is coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help in filing the proper cases against ADMAN and in preventing human trafficking syndicates from victimizing more Filipinos.
“We have the syndicates on our scans and have imposed stricter guidelines to prevent similar human trafficking incidents to happen,” Cacdac said.
Cacdac assured Tañada that the POEA will file the necessary criminal cases against ADMAN in March, pending the labor agency’s coordinating meeting with the NBI and other law enforcement authorities and the ensuing build-up of evidence against the erring placement firm.
Meanwhile, the three-term congressman from Quezon also called for a similar House initiative to look into the status of some 100 Filipino teachers whose work contracts were terminated last year after the US Department of Labor penalized the school that had hired them under the H1B Program had been penalized for violation of US-DOL regulations and alleged involvement in shady recruitment schemes.
Tañada had met with the teachers in the US in July last year and promised to bring up their plight before the House Committee on Overseas Workers, the OWWA, and the POEA.