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Victims of illegal recruiters urged to fight in court

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President and presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Noli De Castro asked yesterday victims of illegal recruitment to pursue the cases they filed against those who duped them.

Citing a recent Court of Appeals decision that found an owner of a recruitment agency guilty of illegal recruitment and estafa, De Castro said “the decision is a good manifestation that justice prevails in our country.”

“As such victims must continue prosecuting their cases so these culprits who prey on would-be OFWs would finally be put behind bars and stop their illegal activities.”

The conviction of Vilma Suliman, owner and general manager of Suliman International Placement and General Services, for three counts of estafa and two counts of illegal recruitment was affirmed by the CA. 

Suliman and her co-accused Luz Garcia were found to have demanded excessive placement fees from three job applicants and failed to actually deploy them.

They also did not reimburse the fees to the victims after the deployment did not push through. 

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The CA modified the penalties on Suliman to a 50-year jail term and a fine of P300,000. Garcia remains at large. 

“Victims of illegal recruitment should find hope in this case against Suliman International Placement and General Services. This should encourage them not to be afraid and cooperate with authorities so that more illegal recruiters can be brought to justice. It is only through their cooperation that the government can really put up a good a fight against illegal recruitment in the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment (TFAIR) arrested a British national during an entrapment operation in Quezon City for alleged illegal recruitment. 

De Castro identified the suspect as Steve Randell who works as president of a local company used as a front for illegal recruitment.

De Castro, also TFAIR chairman, said Sawsee International Corp. is not authorized or licensed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA) to recruit workers for overseas jobs.

Randell was arrested in his office in Cubao after one of his employees, Ian Gene Barientos, received the marked money from complainant Ana Liza Ng during the operation.

Prior to the operation, Ng and six other victims filed complaints against Randell and his company before the TFAIR in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

The complainants said they were promised jobs in the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia as hotel and restaurant workers after paying P110,000 each as placement fee.

Aside from Randell and Barrientos, other staff of Sawsee identified as Marivic Padilla Olino, Maridy Estabaya Balala, Jeanette Gapuz Sarmiento, Edelyn Abecede Putong, and Trisha May Roldan Sanchez, were also arrested. — Pia Lee Brago

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