DFA warns jobseekers over human trafficking in Cuba
By Dino Maragay (philstar.com) Updated August 07, 2009 10:38 AM
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has issued a warning to jobseekers about alleged human trafficking by Manila-based recruiters who try to bring Filipinos to Havana, Cuba.
In a press statement, the DFA said it received word about the illegal activity from the Philippine Embassy in Havana. The Embassy said the report came from officers of the Filipino Association in the Bahamas.
"The Association named the alleged leader of the illegal recruiters as a certain Leonid 'Ned' Pascual. His group had attempted to bring in Filipinos, disguised as tourists, to the Bahamas via Havana four times since 2008. Recently, they attempted to bring in seven Filipinos," the statement said.
"Cuban authorities learned of two attempts made in July 2008 and April 2009 when the victims were left stranded in Havana. The other two attempts, made in December 2008 and January 2009, managed to bring the Filipinos to the Bahamas. However, the Filipinos were abandoned by Pascual and his cohorts without any job or lodgings. The Philippine Embassy assisted the stranded Filipinos by providing them with food and accommodation and facilitated their return to the Philippines."
The DFA said the Bahamanian Embassy in Havana is aware of this modus operandi by the Manila-based recruiters and will turn down visa applications of suspicious applicants. Cuban immigration authorities said they will apprehend and incarcerate violators, the DFA added.
With this, authorities urge jobseekers not to deal with Leonid "Ned" Pascual, and instead report him and his cohorts, notably a certain Pascuala "Peachy" Ramos, to police authorities. Pascual is implicated in previous cases of human trafficking and is currently in Cuba's immigration blacklist.
The DFA added that the matter is now being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment, which is headed by Vice President Noli De Castro.
"The DFA reiterates its warning to the public to be wary of recruiters promising lucrative employment opportunities abroad and to first verify such opportunities with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to avoid being victimized," the statement said.
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