The government has filed 29 illegal recruitment cases against agencies and persons recruiting Filipinos to work in Syria despite a government ban, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay

The Vice President added that 14 show-cause orders have been filed against Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel for their alleged involvement in the illegal smuggling of Filipinos.

Binay said these actions underscore government’s determination to enforce the deployment ban to Syria. He echoed appeals from other government authorities for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) not to go to Syria.

Binay is the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns. Concurrently, he is the chairman emeritus of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and chairman of the Presidential Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment (PTFAIR).

“To date, 668 OFWs have been repatriated from Syria. Of the 668, only 330 had verified passports issued by the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” he said.

“Only 196 departures or 59 percent of the total verified passports were recorded by BI officers,” he added.

The anti-trafficking czar said the data was culled from the interviews conducted by IACAT staff on returning OFWS.

Upon the order of the Vice President, the IACAT recently implemented a mandatory interview of all repatriated OFWs from the war-torn Middle Eastern nation.

“The DOJ (Department of Justice) is set to issue formal administrative charges against the 14, with the hearing to commence within the week,” Binay said.

“Before the end of the month, the DOJ will also be issuing show-cause orders to 11 additional Immigration officers, based on the findings in the interventions made on the latest batch of repatriates from Syria,” he further said.

He said that the filing of administrative charges against BI personnel shows the government’s commitment to eliminate the causes of trafficking and punish those who help in the illegal smuggling of Filipinos.

Moreover, the Vice President reiterated the call for OFWs not to seek employment in Syria.

“I am asking our kababayans, for their own safety, not to accept any employment offers in Syria. Your lives are not worth any amount of money that you may potentially earn there,” he said.

“I am appealing to all our kababayans who are planning to work abroad, to please go through the proper legal channels to avoid becoming victims of trafficking and illegal recruitment syndicates,” he concluded.