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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pinay OFW work for free for 2 years

A Filipina domestic helper was repatriated Monday after a Chinese couple in Hong Kong forced her to work without pay for two years.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima and Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar welcomed the woman when she arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, accompanied by her mother and sister.

Salazar, who heads the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), said he believes the woman, who is in her early 20s, is a victim of a Philippines-based human trafficking syndicate that lured her into accepting an offer to illegally work in Hong Kong.

All work, no pay
The woman entered Hong Kong as a tourist in 2008 after she was promised work as a caregiver for the aging mother of her recruiter’s sister-in-law.

Upon her arrival in Hong Kong, the woman was made to work for a Chinese couple who served her employer, while her employer kept her passport. Even when she fell ill, she was not allowed to return to the Philippines.

Her family never received the salary her recruiter promised, Salazar said.

The woman’s employer only allowed her to leave when her father died in 2010. She said her employer warned her not to disclose her status as an illegal worker and the treatment she received.

The woman surrendered to Hong Kong immigration officials. She was jailed for two more years while the Sha Tin court tried her for overstaying and working without the necessary permits, the DOJ said.

When news of the woman’s plight reached the DOJ last month, De Lima said she dispatched Salazar and other IACAT officials to assist the woman and facilitate her repatriation.

De Lima, in a press conference Monday, vowed to pursue charges against the woman’s recruiter.

“We are mobilizing the resources of government and our private sector partners to make sure there will be no repeat of cases similar to this,” she said. “The government and our partners are determined to protect the rights and interests of Filipinos even beyond our borders.”

Meanwhile, the IACAT and its non-government partner, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, lauded a Malaysian court for ending the human trafficking activities of Singaporean man Eugene Lim Beng Huat, also known as “Alfred Lim,” who allegedly victimized more than 100 Filipina workers.

The sessions court of Malaysia sentenced Lim to a total of six years imprisonment after finding him guilty on two counts of human trafficking of two Filipinas four years ago.

Earlier reports linked Lim to a pattern of illegal recruitment and trafficking with some immigration officials at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, implicating 18 immigration officers stationed there. De Lima dismissed the 18 immigration officials in 2010 and charged them with grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service, dishonesty, gross neglect of duty.

According to witnesses, the women were physically and sexually abused by employers who paid Lim in advance. Some of them were forced into prostitution at Lim’s three-story townhouse in Kuala Lumpur, they said.

Lim also beat up women who were returned by their dissatisfied employers who seek a refund, officials said. - By Rudy Santos (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com) 

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