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PIA Press Release
2008/08/15

CFO warns future migrants against human trafficking

by Maritess Beņas

Bangued, Abra (15 August) -- The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) warned future Filipino migrants against human trafficking during their two-day visit in the province last August 11 and 12.

In an interview with CFO representatives in a local radio here, they informed that the Commission had taken a pro-active stance in mitigating the incidence of human trafficking. CFO wants people to be better-informed on the realities of migration so they will have better decision before finally deciding to migrate to other countries.

The CFO has also started to conduct education program through intensive information education campaign in the various local communities throughout the country in order to make the Filipinos aware of the legal processes of applying as immigrant and avoiding the consequences of human trafficking.

As per latest data file of the CFO, there are now around 8.72M Filipino immigrants or permanent residents abroad. Of this number, there are 77 cases of human trafficking which are currently being handled by the CFO and around 160 victims have been helped through repatriation. This number does not include the cases which are under the investigation of the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Prosecutor's Office of the Department of Justice. As of today, the CFO has not come up with a consolidated data as to the total number of cases of human trafficking.

In their radio interviews and series of symposia in the Divine Word College of Bangued and the Abra State Institute of Science & Technology, and their audiences with the local government units of the province and the municipalities of Bangued, Peņarrubia and Pidigan, the CFO staff led by Mr. Rodrigo Garcia emphasized the need for the future migrants to link with their office for the proper process in applying for an immigrant visa.

They also warned the people not to transact business through the internet especially when it comes to payments and contract signing. They have to make sure these things are done in person and transact with people and not through the net. They have to discuss with the agency before signing any document or contract. Internet transactions must be limited only to the filing or submission of resume or any preliminary activities, but not to make any payments or do any contract signing to avoid contract substitution. This is because contract substitution is the usual cause of exploitation and the crime of human trafficking takes place.

To avoid contract substitution, applicants are advised to have their employment contracts verified by the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA) before getting out of the country. Likewise, said employment contract must be verified with the Philippine Embassy's labor office based in the country where the Filipino migrant is destined. The Philippine Overseas Labor Office verifies existing job orders in the country where they are assigned to prevent contract substitution.

For those marrying a foreigner, the CFO does a one-on-one coaching on the applicants to ensure that the foreign national marrying a Filipina is sure of the legal status of the future husband or the foreigner has no record of trafficking or any criminal record in their country.

Relative to this, the CFO also conducts pre-departure orientation seminars to Filipino migrant applicants to prevent culture-shock. The seminar provides lectures on what to expect, what things to bring, and the immigration laws of the country where the Filipino migrants are destined to go.

The CFO was established on June 16, 1980 by virtue of Batas Pambansa Blg. 79 to give advice and assistance to the President and the Congress regarding legislations needed to promote the interest of the Filipino migrants abroad, to preserve the socio-economic and cultural ties of Filipinos abroad, and serves as liaison office that would bring the Filipinos abroad to their awareness of their roots as Filipinos especially those who are born and raised in other countries.

Other major initiatives of the CFO is the passage of the Law on Absentee-voting whereby the Filipino migrants are given the privilege of exercising their right to vote during national elections; and the Law on Dual Citizenship whereby a Filipino migrant may re-acquire Filipino citizenship while retaining their foreign citizenship. (PIA-Abra) [top]

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