PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

THE Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has provided cash aid to Filipinos who fell victim to an online illegal recruitment scheme allegedly run by Chinese offshore companies in Myanmar.

In a statement late Wednesday, the DMW said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration gave P10,000 each to the 12 victims of the scheme, who were promised a monthly salary of P40,000 for six months of work.

“The Department of Migrant Workers has issued an advisory against online offers for temporary work in Myanmar for POGO-run establishments that are really forced labor and human trafficking hubs in disguise,” Migrant Worker Secretary Maria Susana V. Ople said.

The victims had been rescued in a remote area in Myanmar through a joint operation conducted by the DMW, the Office of Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel and the Department of Foreign Affairs, she noted.

They were offered jobs in customer service relations and technical support but were instead made to form relationships with potential bitcoin investors through dating apps and other social media platforms.

Ms. Ople said Ugat Foundation, a non-government organization, provided on-the-spot counseling and psychological evaluations of the victims.

“This type of operation in Myanmar and in other parts of Asia as well… are luring Filipinos to work there with promises of a six-month contract and a high salary,” she said.

“I will not be surprised if there are syndicates also operating in remote areas here in the Philippines.”

The DMW noted that it will be working with the Philippine National Police to document the testimonies of the victims as they prepare to file human trafficking and illegal recruitment cases against the Chinese firms.

In August, Undersecretary Bernard P. Olalia issued an advisory suspending the deployment of Filipino workers to Myanmar due to violence and armed conflict there.

The agency has said it will maintain a blacklist of foreign employers and recruitment firms found to have violated labor standards, including exploitation and abuse of migrant workers. — John Victor D. Ordoñez