The Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) will send "surveillance teams" to conflict-stricken Marawi City to look out for illegal recruiters who may prey on vulnerable evacuees.
"We will look into that," POEA OIC Aristodes Ruaro said at the POEA's Anti-Illegal Recruitment Summit in Pasay City on Friday. "Magpapadala tayo ng surveillance teams dun."
Over 100,000 Marawi City residents have been displaced by the ongoing clashes between government security forces and members of the Maute terrorist group who stormed the city late last month.
The attack has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to put the entire Mindanao under martial law.
ACTS OFW party-list Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III said they have received reports that foreigners have been directly hiring Filipinos in areas surrounding Marawi City without going through government agencies.
"May nangyayari na. Actually we have several reports, alam na ng POEA 'yan, na dumarami 'yung foreign nationals, especially in Mindanao areas, mga nagre-recruit," Bertiz, who was present at the POEA event, said.
The United Nations has long stated that "political instability, militarism, civil unrest, internal armed conflict and natural disasters" may result in an increase to trafficking while "displacement of populations increase their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse through trafficking and forced labor."
"Siyempre, kelangan na kelangan nila ng trabaho, 'yung mga na-displace diyan, so may mga nagsasamantala especially 'yung mga tinatawag na unlicensed na headhunters," Bertiz said, adding that these headhunters were seen in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities.
He noted that a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) employee has already been charged for forging passports for minors in relation to a human trafficking scam.
"Actually, meron tayong nakasuhan na empleyado ng DFA who's involved in the fabrications of the passport kasi yung mga na-rescue natin na finorward sa office ni [Labor Secretary Silvestre] Bello and POEA mga minors, 14, 16-years-old na ang mga hawak na passport ay 23, 24," Bertiz said.
The National Security Council is coordinating with the POEA's anti-illegal recruitment bureau to curb human trafficking in the country. —KBK, GMA News