The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to redefine illegal recruitment when committed by non licensees or non holders of authority, making it easier to prosecute the crime and give justice to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Voting 260 affirmative and 0 negative, lawmakers approved House Bill (HB) 7718 that seeks to amend Article 38 of the Labor Code and Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act by adding a new way to identify illegal recruitment by a syndicate which is “if the offenders are non-licensees or non-holders of authority and the act was carried out by two or more persons.”
“We see this proposed law as an added protection for our hardworking OFWs and an effort to strengthen further our efforts in deterring illegal recruitment and giving justice to OFWs who fall prey to illegal recruitment,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said.
Under the current Labor Code, Romualdez said illegal recruitment by a syndicate is deemed committed only if carried out by a group of three or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in carrying out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme defined under the law.
“The minimum number of persons provided in the law makes it hard to prosecute illegal recruitment cases by a syndicate,” said the Speaker.
“With House Bill 7718, we hope to fight the crime of illegal recruitment further and make it easier for government prosecutors to file and prosecute the crime of illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate in the case of non-licensees or non-holders of authorities, as two or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another would be sufficient,” Speaker said.
The Migrant Workers Act provides many instances of committing illegal recruitment but its main definition is “any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not when undertaken by non-licensee or non-holder of authority.”
Under the law, the penalty for illegal recruitment is imprisonment of not less than 12 years and one day but not more than 20 years, and a fine from P1 million to P2 million.
If the illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage, the penalty of life imprisonment and a P2 million to P5 million will be imposed.
Illegal recruitment by a syndicate or on a large scale (committed against three or more persons) is considered economic sabotage.