MANILA – A big-time illegal recruiter in Paete town, Laguna province was arrested Tuesday (Feb. 21), in an entrapment operation conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
In a press release issued on Thursday, DMW Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople identified the suspect as Jonnalyn M. Sebastian, 39 years old, allegedly one of the four members of the illegal recruitment ring.
She added that following the operation, the DMW was able to prevent 33 overseas job applicants from falling as victims of illegal recruitment.
“Sebastian, given the sheer number of complainants, faces a non-bailable offense and possibly, a lifetime of jail time,” Ople said.
“We thank the PNP and the province of Laguna for their full support to the DMW’s fight against illegal recruitment and human trafficking,” she added.
Ople said that after receiving complaints from three overseas job applicants, the DMW’s Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch (AIRB) immediately conducted surveillance operations.
She said the victims complained that they were being charged from PHP100,000 to PHP350,000 as “advance placement fees” for “guaranteed” jobs as caregivers in Malta and Malaysia.
Moreover, Ople said that based on the complaint, Sebastian allegedly introduced herself to jobseekers as the “coordinator” of a “government-to-government program” of a “licensed recruitment agency.”
The suspect allegedly charged job applicants an initial “placement fee” ranging from PHP100,000 to PHP150,000 to cover various training fees, medical examinations, and other expenses.
Applicants were also told to pay the remaining balance just before their deployment.
Meanwhile, those who could not pay the fees were allegedly advised by Sebastian to apply for loans to be paid through salary deductions after their deployment.
The applicants however, started to become suspicious when Sebastian failed to deploy them after a considerable amount of time. It was then that they decided to seek the assistance of the DMW.
Currently, Ople said that the DMW is assisting all 33 rescued illegal recruitment victims in documenting their complaints prior to the filing of cases against Sebastian.
She will be charged with large-scale illegal recruitment activities tantamount to economic sabotage which is a non-bailable offense.
On Thursday, Sebastian was taken to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for inquest proceedings while follow-up operations are being conducted by the PNP’s Trafficking in Persons unit against Sebastian’s husband and two other accomplices. (PNA)