The Kuwait Anti-Trafficking Task Force created under Department Order (D.O.) No. 719 dated 24 September 2013, and headed by Assistant City Prosecutor Darlene R. Pajarito, submitted a Report dated 16 December 2013 to Justice Secretary Leila M. De Jima, in connection with the investigation of possible Trafficking in Persons cases that emanated from Kuwait, and as reported to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
After the conduct of investigation, the Task Force found that there appears to be violations of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9208, as amended by R.A. No. 10364, R.A. No. 8042, as amended by R.A. No. 10022, and R.A.6713.
The Task Force identified twenty nine (29) complainants in connection with the complaints - fifteen (15) witnesses decided to pursue an action against the alleged offenders; three (3) witnesses cannot be located; and seven (7) witnesses are no longer interested to file a case.
The Task Force recommended the Indorsement to the DOJ Task Force on Trafficking in Persons and on Illegal Recruitment for preliminary investigation of a government official assigned at the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, two (2) Embassy-hired contractuals, two (2) Embassy-hired lawyers in Kuwait, and of three (3) recruiters, viz.:
1. IBRAHIM DALIGDIG TANANDATO (Assistant to Nationals Unit Head, Embassy of the Philippines, Consular Office, State of Kuwait) recommended to be charged for two counts of violation of R.A. No. 9208, as amended by R.A. No. 10364, WA. No. 6713, R.A. 3019;
2. MUAMAR MAMOSION (Arabic Translator, Local Hire) recommended to be charged for violation of R.A. No. 6713 and/or R.A. 3019
3. OMAR KHALIL (Visa 18 Case Officer, Local Hire) recommended to be charged for violation of R.A. 6713 and/or R.A. 3019;
4. ATTY. KHALED ALMAS (Embassy-hired lawyer in Kuwait) recommended to be charged for violation of R.A. 6713 and/or R.A. 3019; and
5. ATTY. AYIED AL-SUBAIE (Embassy-hired lawyer in Kuwait) recommended to be charged for violation of R.A. No. 6713 and/or R.A. 3019;
6. WILFREDO PALOMAR, JR. (Recruiter) recommended to be charged for violation of R.A. No. 8042, as amended by R.A. No. 10022;
7. MARIAM MACAPUDI (Recruiter) recommended to be charged for violation of R.A. No. 8042, as amended by R.A. No. 10022; and
8. DOLORES SUAREZ (Recruiter) recommended to be charged for violation of R.A. No. 8042, as amended by R.A. No. 10022.
The respondents whose criminal cases for syndicated illegal recruitment were already forwarded to the Office of the City Prosecutor of the City of Manila are:
1. AMOR DECEPEDA (employee of Ascend International Services, Manila Branch);
2. NORA PILPA SEVILLANO (employee of Ascend International Services, Tacloban Branch);
3. REGINA PADIERNOS (employee of Ascend International Services, Manila Branch);
4. LEOJANE "Fatima" TACANG (Secretary of Suad Alderbas Manpower Recruitment Office, the counterpart agency of Ascend International Services); and
5. PERCEVERANDA "Percy" PIRANDA (participated in recruitment to Kuwait, referred a complainant to another employer after first two employers abused her services).
There are other twenty five (25) individuals, including government officials assigned at the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, and twelve (12) recruitment agencies mentioned in the Sworn Statements that still require further investigation.
In a nutshell, the complainants alleged in their Sworn Affidavits that a government official hired them to work as domestic helpers with a salary of only fifty (50) Kuwaiti Dinar (KD) a month, and without any proper documentation from POLO-OWWA; that with abuse of power and position, the same government official took advantage of one of the victims by deceiving her that her backwages have not been paid yet by her previous employer; that the Embassy-hired lawyers, together with the Embassy-hired contractuals and government officials, demanded money from the complainants as Attorney's fees; and that a government official and an Embassy-hired lawyer advised and insisted that she settles her case in exchange of money. Two of the complainants also alleged that they were recruited as handlers of K-9 Bomb Sniffing Dog with a monthly salary of Php30,000 to Php35,000; that one of the complainants paid Php10,000 to one of the respondents as training fee, and Php23,000, purportedly, for the immigration officer; however, upon arrival in Kuwait, they were made to sign a document with a salary of only 110 KD per month.
By virtue of the respective mandates of each government agency to exercise its disciplinary action against erring individuals, the Task Force also indorsed to the Secretary that the Sworn Statements of the complainants, letters, and other documentary evidence be referred to competent agencies, namely, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and employment, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), for their appropriate action.
Specifically, it was highly recommended that twelve (12) agencies and its representatives, including their respective foreign counterpart recruitment agencies in Kuwait, be further investigated by the POEA for possible administrative sanctions.
The victims of the agencies alleged that they signed employment contracts which provided for a salary of US$400 a month as Household Service Workers. However, the foreign counterpart agencies in Kuwait made them sign another 2-year employment contracts with a salary of only fifty (50) to eighty (80) KD per month, and they had to work for at least eighteen (18) hours a day. One of the agencies even made one of the victims sign an Affidavit of Quitclaim and waiver in exchange of Php12,000. An agency also made one of the complainants sign a waiver of liability and promissory note to support her salary deduction for her processing and placement fees.
Further, the Task Force recommended that the DFA and the POEA look into the abuses allegedly committed by Kuwaiti or other foreign employers/nationals, and that after conducting the necessary investigation, to study the possibility of permanently blacklisting them from employing OFWs, or representing them in legal cases.
It appears that a number of the complainants have been maltreated by their employers, or by the wives of their employers; that the Embassy-hired lawyers failed to assist the complainants in the prosecution of their cases against the offenders; that some employers did not pay the complainants' backwages; that a complainant was made to work for twenty (20) hours with limited or no food at all; that employers locked two of the complainants in the house to prevent them from escaping; that a complainant was sexually abused by her employer and his son; and that one employer touched and pinched the butt of one of the complainants.
The Task Force also recommended for OWWA to provide welfare assistance to the complainants/victims listed in the Report; and for the Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide livelihood skills and training updates to the complainants/victims.
As to the new evidence which were recently acquired, the Task Force stated that this shall be the subject of a further investigation and that a supplemental Report thereon shall be submitted to the Secretary.
A copy of the Report will also be forwarded to the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, chaired by Representative Walden F. Bello, for its information and reference.
The contents of this initial Report cannot be released to the public, in light of the need to conceal the identities of the complainants, as statutorily required, and so as not to prejudice further investigation of certain other individuals and recruitment agencies, as recommended in the Report.