TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Officials from the Tabuk City Police Station (TCPS) and the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) recently rescued a Maranao tribesman who had been allegedly taken advantage of by an unlawful recruiter.
Raffy Cassim, 26, a resident of Marawi, Lanao del Sur, was purportedly forced to work in a neighborhood palay buying station in Barangay Magsaysay after he was promised work in well-paying position.
On September 5, 2022, Cassim arrived in Tabuk City through the help of a woman named “Lorraine,” who is an alleged illegal recruiter.
After working for a couple of palay buying stations in the City for nearly two years, Cassim claims he transferred to the GND Palay Buying Station sometime in September 2022. He was apparently paid P300.00 per day, instead of P380.00, which included his food, accommodation, and overtime pay.
George Dao-as, the owner of GND Palay Buying Station, is responsible for managing the station.
When asked how he was doing, Cassim responded that he couldn’t help but compare his most recent employer with the first two palay stations he had worked for because, in his opinion, he had received good treatment, received daily compensation of P380,00, and received overtime pay of P150.00 in his previous employments. In addition, he claimed that during his brief stay with GND, he and his co-workers allegedly suffered mental and psychological torture in addition to purportedly being slapped, punched, and verbally abused.
According to the PNP personnel, three additional employees who were from Bataan and worked at the same palay buying station had already gone. It appears that Dao-as hired extra Bataan workers in order to help others who were also, apparently, the victims of illegal recruiting.
These workers have already been sent back home via the city government’s “Balik Probinsya” program.
The effort to save Cassim was made, according to social welfare officer Vilma Palma, when a text message was received from an anonymous sender asking for help at the palay buying station.
Palma recalled how the CSWDO and TCPS had in the past helped those who had been the victims of illicit recruiting and human trafficking.
In the midst of the conversation, Cassim was asked if he wants to go home, and he responded in the affirmative. He was given P5,150.00 as compensation for his efforts after working at the company for 26 days.
Palma cautioned Dao-as against using out-of-town workers in the future, even if they had the proper documentation.
Emmanuel Barcellano, a senior labor and employment officer for DOLE in Kalinga, said that this incident should serve as a warning to business owners who want to offer temporary employment opportunities, particularly for those coming from outside Kalinga to interview them first to find out how they were recruited.
He stated that proper hiring of personnel should be prioritized in order to safeguard both the business and the employee as well as to formalize everything through written contracts whenever it was possible.
Barcellano claimed that some personnel at the GND palay buy station should receive P80.00 more per day in compensation instead of P300.00 daily, but that the amount is still appropriate because meals and accommodation are provided.
Likewise, the GND should be responsible for registering their employees in regional insurance plans and paying their contributions, he continued.
As the number of victims of illegal recruitment keeps increasing, the DOLE reminds the public to always be vigilant and check their website for registered recruiters, a list of manpower agencies and facilities, or coordinate with the local Public Employment Services Office (PESO) for job opportunities.
Cassim, who would be traveling to Manila to be reunited with his sister in Baclaran, was taken to the bus terminal by members of PNP Tabuk and a staff member from the City Information Office (CIO).
The TCPS has provided him with lodging and meals while he waited for his travel, and Mayor Darwin Estrañero has donated personal funds for his fare and other travel-related expenses.