DMW Secretary Susan Ople (PNA photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has ordered the closure of an illegal recruitment agency in Ermita, Manila.

In a statement Friday, Secretary Susan Ople said the Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch (AIRB) of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) padlocked Kharem’s International last July 29 for supposedly offering non-existent jobs in the Middle East.

It was learned that the establishment is an unregistered and unlicensed company posing to hire domestic workers, beauticians, and on-call cleaners for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Middle Eastern countries.

Ople said the Department had received complaints about Kharem International’s bogus job offerings in exchange for placement and other “advance” fees.

The operation was conducted with the help of officials of Barangay 668 in Ermita.

She also advised those who were victimized by the company to contact the Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch for free legal assistance in the filing of cases.

At the same time, the DMW chief reported that six illegal recruiters from Davao City were apprehended in separate operations in Metro Manila early this month.

She said the suspected illegal recruiters promised non-existent overseas jobs to 235 victims.

The recruiters were the subject of a complaint coursed through the radio program “Wanted sa Radyo, Raffy Tulfo in Action.” The complainants were referred to the DMW.

Ople added that one of the six illegal recruiters from Davao City was confronted by 109 of its victims at the POEA Building in Mandaluyong City.

The victims were to file a complaint when they spotted and cornered Vegloure Ragotero, one of the alleged sub-agent recruiters, inside the building.

The suspect is neither connected with any licensed recruitment agency nor is authorized to engage in the recruitment of workers abroad.

The DMW head has ordered an investigation into the presence of Ragotero in the building.

Another batch of 126 victims cornered suspected illegal recruiters in front of a hotel in Pasay City.

They were identified as Zahra Kaharudin, Alma Camasura, Maria Katherine Omambat, Connie Cosmod, and Glodie May Pandian.

They are being held at the detention facility of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Anti-Transnational Crime Unit of the Philippine National Police.

Charges of large-scale illegal recruitment, a non-bailable offense under Republic Act No. 10022, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, are being prepared against them.

Ragotero and her colleagues have been recruiting male applicants as cleaners for Qatar, and female applicants as cleaners and waitresses for Bahrain.

They allegedly entice job seekers with a monthly salary of more or less PHP40,000 in exchange for PHP25,000 representing supposed placement and processing fees, and plane tickets from Davao to Manila.

“We are serving notice to all illegal recruiters. Layunin ng DMW at ng administrasyon ni Pangulong (Ferdinand) Marcos Jr. na bigyang proteksyon ang ating mga kababayan na nagnanais magtrabaho sa ibang bansa (The DMW and the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. aim to protect our compatriots who want to work abroad). There will be no let-up in our campaign against illegal recruiters,” Ople said.

She then urged the public to always verify job offers with the POEA to avoid falling prey to illegal recruitment schemes. (PNA)