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Pinoy Abroad

DMW vows to intensify efforts against trafficking of OFWs

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said Tuesday it would intensify its efforts against human trafficking involving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

DMW Secretary Susan Ople said the department vowed to coordinate with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other government agencies during the meeting of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacañang on Monday.

According to Ople, the department has been assisting victims of cryptocurrency syndicates in filing human trafficking cases.

"Eleven cases of trafficking in persons have already been filed, with four more set for filing in the next two weeks," she said.

The DMW secretary said one of the accused in the crypto-currency scam that victimized OFWs in Cambodia was arrested on March 7 in San Fernando, Pampanga.

The department was also monitoring reports of human trafficking involving OFWs in Poland to other parts of Europe, as they were being subjected to "long hours of work, low wages, and unsafe work conditions."

"The DMW continues to provide food and other forms of assistance to 39 Filipino workers who were brought to Belgium by a manpower company based in Poland. These workers were recently granted temporary work permits by the Belgian government pending the resolution of their case," Ople said.

The DOJ also committed to assisting victims of human trafficking abroad who are determined to pursue criminal cases through the Witness Protection Program, she said.

Ople said the department would also strengthen its awareness campaign to prevent more OFWs from becoming victims of cryptocurrency scam syndicates in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.

"The illegal recruitment is done online, and so we need to use social media more effectively to expose these syndicates," Ople said.

"If our workers leave unprepared, unaware of their rights, and not even realizing how life-changing a decision it is to work abroad, then the probability of landing in unsafe, high-risk environments becomes sky-high," she added.

Ople advised OFWs to go through the legal process and avoid "entrusting their lives and safety to strangers" on social media.

"We will continue to push for reforms to include incentives for fair and ethical recruitment, country-specific employment contracts, more bilateral labor agreements with anti-trafficking provisions, and zero tolerance for graft and corruption," she said.

According to the DMW, the Philippines has existing bilateral labor agreements with provisions against trafficking in persons with United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Jordan.

"We intend to pursue more bilateral agreements with anti-trafficking provisions as our contribution to the global efforts against modern slavery," Ople said.

On Monday, Marcos ordered the IACAT and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) to strengthen efforts to eradicate human trafficking.

Marcos said human trafficking compromised the country's national security and economy. —VBL, GMA Integrated News