Press Release
December 2, 2023

Bong Go urges swift action to help Filipino job seekers victimized by recruitment scams

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, has once again called upon concerned government agencies to intensify their efforts in seeking justice for more than 400 Filipino job seekers who were victimized by an illegal recruitment scheme, which was reportedly orchestrated by Alpha Assistenza SRL, in Italy.

The Philippine Consulate General in Milan and the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) have taken crucial steps to intervene and offer assistance to those affected by the fraudulent recruitment scheme. However, the delay in the resolution of the cases prompted Go to reiterate his call for a more urgent government response.

"Despite the scam being exposed three months ago, more tangible actions to address this pressing issue are yet to be taken," Go said.

"This delay is not only disheartening but has also exacerbated the difficulties faced by the victims, who are currently in a state of uncertainty regarding their future and financial security," he added.

The victims have shared harrowing accounts of how they were deceived into getting job opportunities in Italy with significant amounts of money. Several victims reportedly discovered that the work permits issued by Alpha Assistenza SRL were fraudulent, only after making payments to the agency, adding that the latter lacks any legal standing to process work visa applications for Filipinos.

Go has urged the DMW and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to extend their full support to the affected individuals and ensure that they receive the necessary assistance and guidance during this challenging time.

Emphasizing the urgency of the matter, Go has also directed his appeal towards the Department of Justice (DOJ), urging them to conduct a thorough and swift investigation into the reported illegal recruitment activities.

Go then reiterated his support to Senator Raffy Tulfo, Chair of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, who is seeking an investigation into these suspected cases of fraud and illegal recruitment activities.

"We understand the complexities involved in such cases, but we cannot overstate the impact of timely action on the lives of these victims. The delay not only prolongs their suffering but also undermines the trust of our fellow countrymen in the government's ability to protect and uphold their rights," stressed Go.

Also, Go called on concerned government agencies to extend needed support to Filipinos abroad facing other predicaments such as eight Filipino seafarers who are being held by Algerian authorities for alleged drug trafficking. It has been reported that these eight seafarers have not been able to contact their families, nor representatives from their agency or Philippine authorities, according to Captain Edgardo Flores, the general manager of Eastern Mediterranean Manning Agency.

"Kung ano lang ang tama. Kung mapatunayang may kasalanan, kaya panagutin ayon sa batas. Pero bilang kapwa Pilipino, siguraduhin nating mabigyan sila ng sapat na suporta upang makamit ang mabilis at patas na hustisya," he said.

Go was one of the authors and co-sponsors of Republic Act No. 11641 which created the DMW. It is the consolidated version of an earlier measure he filed which sought to create the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers, with the goal of enhancing the streamlined and effective provision of crucial government services for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

The law streamlined the organization and functions of all government agencies related to overseas employment and migration through the creation of DMW. The DMW also operates as a one-stop shop for both documented and undocumented OFWs, rendering government services from pre-employment to employment and reintegration.

"Regalo po natin ito sa ating mga OFWs po na nagsasakripisyo po. Malaki ang inaambag nila sa ating bayan, mga modern-day heroes natin, para po ito sa inyo, itong Department of Migrant Workers," Go cited.

"Now, more than ever, the DMW should step in to protect the rights and welfare of Filipino migrant workers," he added.

Recently, the Senate has unanimously approved on third and final reading the Senate Bill institutionalizing the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers. Go, co-sponsor and one of the authors of the bill, lauded the approval as he continues to advocate for the welfare of Filipino seafarers. He described the Senate approval as a "triumph for our unsung heroes and a testament to the Senate's commitment to the welfare of our kababayans at sea."

The proposed measure aims to cover a wide range of issues that usually affect seafarers. If passed into law, it shall help secure the right of the country's seafarers to decent and humane employment and set a guide for seafarers on training, overseas employment, and retirement.

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