Rep. Duterte to redefine illegal recruitment as a crime of economic sabotage for stricter, stiffer penalties.
To better protect from exploitation and promote the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte with Benguet Rep. Eric Yap have filed a proposed measure seeking to strengthen the definition of illegal recruitment in the Labor Code by providing a more stringent requirement to what constitutes illegal recruitment by a syndicate.
House Bill No. 8360 states that instead of three conspirators, it currently proposes that at least two conspirators would now correspond to an illegal recruitment syndicate, which is tantamount to economic sabotage, and eventually, violators would be meted stricter and stiffer penalties.
“Despite recent legislations increasing the penalty for the crime of illegal recruitment, the Department of Migrant Workers still regarded it as among the most pertinent issue in labor migration as it highlights that ‘illegal recruiter could victimize an average of 500 aspiring OFWs just in one day’,” Duterte explained.
Duterte added that defining labor as the primary social economic force, the 1987 Constitution affirms the protection of the rights and promotion of welfare of workers. The said mandate, he pointed out, encompasses not only workers in the country, but also the Filipinos working abroad.
Yap, on the other hand, noted that according to the International Labor Organization, at least 10 million Filipinos live abroad and more than one million leave the country each year to work in foreign countries.
“Hence, while labor migration serves as a national thrust for economic growth, especially in the Philippines due to consistent increase in OFW remittances, Filipino migrants remain vulnerable to exploitation and abuse including contract violations, sexual harassment, violence and discrimination, and illegal recruitment,” Yap added.
The proposed measure aims to strengthen Article 38 of Presidential Decree No. 442, otherwise known as the “Labor Code of the Philippines,” as amended is hereby further amended to read as follows:
Article 38. Illegal Recruitment – Any recruitment activities, including the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of this Code, to be undertaken by non-licensees or non-holders of authority, shall be deemed illegal and punishable under Article 39 of this Code. The Department of Labor and Employment or any enforcement officer may initiate complaints under this Article; Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or on a large scale shall be considered an offense involving economic sabotage and shall be penalized in accordance with Article 39 hereof;
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of two [three (3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in carrying out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme defined under the first paragraph hereof. Illegal recruitment is deemed committed on a large scale if committed against three or more persons individually or as a group.
The measure also intends to amend Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995,” as amended by R.A.10022, to make it more stringent for the benefit of the OFWs, the government considers as the country’s modern heroes.