The Department of Labor and Employment 6 rescued 14 workers including two minors from the hands of a suspected illegal recruiter in La Castellana, Negros Occidental.
The victims were recruited in Tacloban City by a certain Danny Federico (not his real name), who is also a relative of some victims, and brought to Negros Occidental to work as migratory sugarcane workers or sacadas in one of the haciendas in La Castellana, Negros Occidental.
Federico recruited and transported 24 workers without the necessary permit to recruit issued by the DOLE Regional Office No. 8 in Eastern Visayas or any of its field offices. Instead, he used the authority issued by the DOLE Antique Provincial Office in Western Visayas.
He gave each recruit a cash advance of P2,000 before leaving Tacloban City and promised that they will be paid P150 per ton of sugarcane cut, piled and loaded. However, when they arrived in the hacienda, they were informed by other workers that they will only be paid P105 per ton.
At the instance of DOLE Region 8 to rescue the alleged victims of illegal recruitment working at the alleged Hacienda Helilihan in La Castellana, Negros Occidental, the OIC Regional Director Crispin D. Dannug, Jr. immediately issued authority to a three-man team from Negros Occidental Provincial Office, consisting of a technical personnel and two labor inspectors, to conduct inspection and verify reports of illegal recruitment and human trafficking in said hacienda.
The team of inspectors, led by Mary Agnes Capigon, Supervising LEO, proceeded to La Castellana, Negros Occidental, on November 10, and coordinated with Mayor Alberto Nicor, Jr. who immediately convened the police, MSWD staff and the PESO Manager to assist in the rescue operation. They learned that the name of the hacienda is actually Najalinan, not Helilihan, situated at Bgy. Robles, La Castellana, Negros Occidental.
At 2:00PM that same day, the team entered the vicinity of the hacienda and summoned a certain Danny Federico for interview and discovered that Federico did not have any permit issued by DOLE Region 8 when he recruited and transported 24 workers from Tacloban City to Negros Occidental.
The DOLE, under Department Order No. 7, series of 1976, regulates hiring of migratory sugar workers, the so called ‘sacadas’, by issuing authority to recruit to planters/land owners and their duly authorized representatives.
The planter/land owner or his representative then secures permit from the DOLE provincial office where the recruitment will take place.
Federico, however, extended his recruitment in Tacloban City where his cousins and other relatives reside using the permit issued by DOLE Antique Provincial Office, which renders his recruitment activity illegal. This action is a violation of Art. 38 of the Labor Code of the Philippines and carries a penalty of fine and imprisonment.
How were they enticed to work in Negros Occidental?
According to the victims, they were given cash advances of P2,000 each before leaving Tacloban City, and promised to be paid P150 per ton of sugarcane cut, piled and loaded. However, when they arrived in the hacienda they were informed by other workers that they will only be paid P105 per ton.
Their employment started on October 19, 2011. The adult workers worked for about 10 hours a day (3:00 to 10:00 AM and 1:00 to 4:00 PM) six and a half days a week, while the two minors worked from 6:00 to 10:00AM and 1:00 to 4:00PM for six days.
They were given three meals at a cost of P60-70 per day deductible from their salaries, which will be paid at the end of the milling season.
Findings of Inspection
During the course of inspection, the inspectors found out that the victims were not paid of their salary from October 19 to November 10, 2011.
Federico violated Republic Act 9231, an Act Providing for the elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Affording Stronger Protection for the Working Child, due to the employment of two minors, Jomarie Segovia and Josephus Tesoro (not their real names), both 17 years old.
He also violated RA 9208, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, for recruiting and transporting the workers to Negros Occidental with clear purpose of exploiting them, and DO #7 for recruiting workers in Tacloban City without the necessary permit issued by the DOLE Regional Office No. 8.
Of the 24 workers recruited, 17 remained in the hacienda as others already fled and, of this number, 14 workers including two minors were rescued and brought to La Castellana Police Station.
The other five voluntarily stayed in the hacienda per agreement/affidavit signed in the presence of the DOLE personnel.
The inspectors facilitated the payment of wages and reimbursement of transportation expenses of the 14 rescued workers amounting to P18,000. They also arranged and coordinated with DOLE 8 for their repatriation to Tacloban City. (Amalia N. Judicpa, Sr. LEO/LCO-Designate)