A 63-YEAR-OLD suspected illegal recruiter was detained by agents of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on Tuesday on complaints of more than 200 job applicants who claimed they paid placement fees ranging from P40,000 to as much as P250,000 to the suspect in exchange for non-existing jobs in Japan, Australia and New Zealand, a report to PNP-CIDG director Chief Supt. Roel B. Obusan said yesterday.
Suspect Osmando Nibero Habilag was turned over to the CIDG Anti-Transnational Crime Unit headed by Supt. Roque Merdegia Jr. at 7 p.m. Tuesday by some of his victims who chanced upon him in Carriedo, Quiapo, Manila. “It was a plain and simple citizen’s arrest,” said Merdegia.
The official said that the arrest came six days after more than 50 complainants from Davao City, accompanied by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration head Hanz Leo Cacdac and Susan Ople of the Blas Ople Foundation, sought the CIDG-ATCU’s assistance in going after Habilag and a certain Alejandro Navarro Jr., whom they described as business partners of the Bantayog Travel and Tours in Tanza, Cavite.
Some of the victims issued formal statements which said that Habilag and Navarro started recruiting many of them for job as butchers and English teachers in Japan, Australia and New Zealand in December 2015. The suspects allegedly demanded P40,000 to as much as P250,000 in placement and other processing fees.
“Despite paying the huge placement fees, none of the job applicants made it to abroad,” Merdegia said.
A verification with the POEA showed that Bantayog Travel and Tours is not authorized to recruit workers for abroad, prompting the CIDG-ACTU to send two of its men in Tanza, Cavite, to arrest Navarro who turned out to be the subject of a pending warrant of arrest for estafa.
The operation against Navarro yielded negative result but some of the victims spotted Habilag in Quiapo and pounced on him.
The suspects are now facing charges for violation of Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act and Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, otherwise known as estafa.