Vice-President and Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Concerns Jejomar C. Binay today commended two Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) for their help in convicting a Singaporean human trafficker named Lim Beng Huat. The trafficker, also known as “Alfred Lim,” was ordered jailed for six years by a Malaysian court.
Binay thanked Marilou Bagsit and Marivic Capistrano, for cooperating with the Philippine government in running after Lim in partnership with the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-government organization that represents the OFW sector in the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
“This is a good example of how teamwork can lead to more convictions in the fight against human trafficking and illegal recruitment. We call on other OFWs to emulate these two women by reporting incidence of abuse and illegal recruitment to our embassies abroad and also to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration or to NGOs such as the Ople Center,” Binay said in a press conference at the Coconut Palace.
The Vice-President also thanked the Malaysian government particularly the Malaysian Royal Police, the prosecutors who handled the case, and the Sessions Court for resolving the three-year old trafficking case and giving credence and importance to the testimony of the two OFW victims.
Both Marilou and Marivic were recruited to Malaysia in 2008. They escaped from Lim’s townhouse on June 30, 2008 after suffering physical and verbal abuse from said recruiter. Lim is known to slap his victims and deprive them of food and salaries especially when they are returned to his agency by Malaysian employers. Some of his recruits end up as prostitutes against their will.
Binay also noted a sharp rise in the number of convictions for human trafficking cases with a total of 66 convictions since the start of the current administration compared to 20 convictions under the previous administration.
He stressed the need for victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment to come forward and seek government assistance in filing cases against their recruiters.
“We also call on the media and local governments to continue reminding the public not to be swayed by promises of quick deployment overseas made by illegal recruiters,” he added.
Binay also called for the passage of the amendments to the Anti-Trafficking Act particularly on Section 6 which provides the right to privacy to the accused in human trafficking cases. He noted that this emboldens human traffickers since despite pending warrants of arrest, the law prohibits law enforcers, the media, and non-government organizations from revealing their identities thus enabling them to recruit more victims especially in remote areas.
Susan Ople, head of the Ople Center, said that the conviction of “Alfred Lim” is the first international case involving a Singaporean trafficker filed by two OFWs. It is also considered a landmark case because “Lim” has been known to have victimized nearly a hundred OFWs, mostly women forced into oppressive work conditions including prostitution.
With the conviction of “Lim”, the Center hopes that more of his victims will come out openly and provide information about “Lim’s” cohorts in the Philippines.
Lim’s victims can contact the Blas F. Ople Center for assistance through hotline: 8335337.