Overseas Filipino Workers Illegal Recruitment

Atty. Noel Atienza
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Overseas Filipino Workers are considered as today’s modern heroes and they have their rights that must be upheld:

  • Right to equality.
  • Whatever your race, color, sex, language, religion, political belief or age is, you are equal to everyone.
  • Thinking that you are superior because of your race or that you are smarter because you are older may be a common notion but is not always correct.
  • Give respect to be respected.
  • Right to Opinion.

Migrant Workers Act of 1995 (RA 8042) An act to institute the policies of overseas employment and establish a higher standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress, and for other purposes.

Republic Act No. 10022, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers Act defines illegal recruitment as any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by non-licensee or non-holder of authority. It shall likewise include the following acts, whether committed by any person, whether a non-licensee, non-holder, licensee or holder of authority:

(a) To charge or accept directly or indirectly any amount greater than that specified in the schedule of allowable fees prescribed by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, or to make a worker pay or acknowledge any amount greater than that actually received by him as a loan or advance;

(b) To furnish or publish any false notice or information or document in relation to recruitment or employment;

(c) To give any false notice, testimony, information or document or commit any act of misrepresentation for the purpose of securing a license or authority under the Labor Code, or for the purpose of documenting hired workers with the POEA, which include the act of reprocessing workers through a job order that pertains to nonexistent work, work different from the actual overseas work, or work with a different employer whether registered or not with the POEA;

(d) To include or attempt to induce a worker already employed to quit his employment in order to offer him another unless the transfer is designed to liberate a worker from oppressive terms and conditions of employment;

(e) To influence or attempt to influence any person or entity not to employ any worker who has not applied for employment through his agency or who has formed, joined or supported, or has contacted or is supported by any union or workers’ organization;

(f) To engage in the recruitment or placement of workers in jobs harmful to public health or morality or to the dignity of the Republic of the Philippines;

“h) To fail to submit reports on the status of employment, placement vacancies, remittance of foreign exchange earnings, separation from jobs, departures and such other matters or information as may be required by the Secretary of Labor and Employment;

(i) To substitute or alter to the prejudice of the worker, employment contracts approved and verified by the Department of Labor and Employment from the time of actual signing thereof by the parties up to and including the period of the expiration of the same without the approval of the Department of Labor and Employment;

(j) For an officer or agent of a recruitment or placement agency to become an officer or member of the Board of any corporation engaged in travel agency or to be engaged directly or indirectly in the management of travel agency;

(k) To withhold or deny travel documents from applicant workers before departure for monetary or financial considerations, or for any other reasons, other than those authorized under the Labor Code and its implementing rules and regulations;

(l) Failure to actually deploy a contracted worker without valid reason as determined by the Department of Labor and Employment;

(m) Failure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with his documentation and processing for purposes of deployment, in cases where the deployment does not actually take place without the worker’s fault. Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered an offense involving economic sabotage; and

(n) To allow a non-Filipino citizen to head or manage a licensed recruitment/manning agency.

Illegal recruitment is considered as economic sabotage if it is carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another or it is committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group. 

Republic Act No. 10022 states that any person found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than twelve (12) years and one (1) day but not more than twenty (20) years and a fine of not less than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) nor more than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00).

If the illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage, the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00) nor more than Five million pesos (P5,000,000.00) shall be imposed.

Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered an offense involving economic sabotage. Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in carrying out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme defined under the first paragraph hereof. On the other hand, illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group (Article 38 (b) of the Labor Code).

In the case of People vs. Velasco, 727 SCRA 257 GR 195668, June 25, 2014, if the crime is committed in large scale, the State establishes a conspiracy. Conspiracy under the Revised Penal Code is defined as:

“Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it”

The quantum of proof required to establish conspiracy is similar to the evidence required to prove a commission of a felony, further, the elements of conspiracy must be proven beyond reasonable doubt and the evidence of actual cooperation rather than mere cognizance or approval of an illegal act is required (Reyes, Luis B., The Revised Penal Code, Criminal Law Book II, (17h Ed.),2008, page 134).

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