I attended the round table discussion last May 12, 2009. It took me quite a time before I can finally write about this… Knowing & hearing the stories first-hand really is soo hard to absorb… It is just sad that Illegal Recruitment & Human Trafficking is really happening in our country considering that OFWs are actually the heroes of this country.
Several bloggers (including me) were invited so we could meet some of the bus drivers that Blas F. Ople Policy Center helped bring home here from Dubai. They are some of the 137 stranded bus drivers who are victims of illegal recruitment & human trafficking by a licensed (take note) recruitment agency and a private lending company.
It is just sad that only thing the bus drivers wanted is to give a better life to their families. They gave up their day jobs here in the Philippines just to be able to work abroad. The agency offered them a job as drivers with a monthly salary of $1,500 at Dubai. The agency had asked them to take out Php150,000 loan from a lending company (recommended by the agency) & made them sign & issue undated checks worth Php 1,906,123 (that’s like more than 1,000% interest!!).
Coming home penniless, jobless and traumatized from the experience, the bus drivers are now being pressured to pay up by the lending company. How can they pay? While in Dubai, they were all waiting for the 1-month training & immediate hiring by the Dubai Roads & Transport Authority but turned out to be hoax! Because they don’t have money, they ended up eating just tomatoes & rice everyday and sometimes don’t eat at all!
With the help of Atty. Reynaldo Robles & Blas F. Ople Policy Center, A civil case was filed to seek nullification of all financial transactions, loans & written contracts signed by the drivers under duress & without the benefit of proper explanation or an appropriate time for consultation & review.
It doesn’t take a genius to analyze & understand what is happening here. And I just hope we all be informed of this reality. This is really happening… Illegal Recruitment & Human Trafficking even by a CERTIFIED employment agency.
What can we do now to help?
- Spread the word. We need to let everybody know that this is happening. We either blog about it, write an email to friends about it, share stories of other similar cases that is happening. We need to make people aware of this.
- Provide Employment Opportunities. Most of the drivers still don’t have a job and most that have children would be forced to drop out oform school unless their financial burdens are reduced. So while we continue to fight the civil case, let’s help provide them jobs. If any of you are looking for drivers, please do contact Blas Ople Center at [email protected] or call +63-2-833-5337 or +63-2-833-9562 and look for Lynn or Estelle Ople Osorio.
Sharing some pictures from the Roundtable Discussion (click here).