Jerome Alcantara, deputy executive director of Blas Ople Policy Center and Training Institute (Medel V. Hernani/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A policy center advocating migrant workers’ rights said they were able to assist almost 200 skilled workers, majority of whom from Davao City, who were victimized by illegal recruiters.

Jerome Alcantara, deputy executive director of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, said the applicants who were trained by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or Tesda, were recruited through a social media page on Facebook sometime four months ago.

Alcantara in a press conference Tuesday, September 27,  said the Facebook page recruiting butchers going to Japan and New Zealand, was used by the illegal recruiters who announced a job opening in Japan.

“It seemed legal because they underwent processes and certification, but after they paid and they were supposed to appear before the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the suspects were nowhere to be found,” he said.

Alcantara said the recruiters went to Manila and each of them paid the recruiters around P80,000 to P180,000.

The victims are temporarily housed at the Occupational Safety and Health Center under the Department of Labor and Employment.

“They will also act as witnesses since the suspects are believed to have victimized several applicants to jobs abroad,” said Alcantara. He said illegal recruiters found an opportunity to victimize those applying as butcher to Japan, Australia and New Zealand, after the government announced that there are job openings by posing as someone who could send the workers abroad.

He warned that even skilled workers are taken advantage at by human traffickers.

“Some of them were thinking that they will not fall to illegal recruiters because they are skilled, but still they are victimized,” he said.

“But those were just government to government arrangements,” he added.

He said the female recruiter who recruited them is still at large in Davao City.

Some of the workers from Davao City are still staying  in Metro Manila awaiting updates on the arrest of the recruiters, said Alcantara.

He said the victims had no schedule in returning home yet as most of them still await the arrest of the suspects hoping to get the money they paid. Alcantara said some of the workers are from other provinces like Laguna and Cavite. (

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