COTABATO CITY—To better protect the Bangsamoro migrant workers from illegal recruitment activities and human trafficking, the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) gathered the different recruitment agencies operating in BARMM to strengthen and monitor their compliance for operations on Nov. 17, in this city.
This was through the conduct of the first Bangsamoro Annual Recruitment Agency Summit (BARAS)—one of the programs of MOLE’s Recruitment and Accreditation Division where all recruitment agencies and similar entities or alike such as Security Agencies operate within the BARMM areas.
During the summit, the agencies presented their annual reports, recruitment process, and accomplishments along with the invited local Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) organization, International Labor Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), and other concerned agencies/entities.
Accordingly, the event was organized under the guiding principle and provisions of Bangsamoro Autonomy Act Number 9 (BAA No. 9).
This is an act regulating the operations of local and foreign recruitment agencies within the BARMM, which serves as a tool for the MOLE to be more effective in monitoring both local and foreign agencies’ compliance in the region.
MOLE Minister Muslimin Sema said that the ministry has been striving hard to implement laws, rules, and regulations to protect the rights of migrant workers and to ensure fair treatment during the recruitment process.
“This summit provides a platform to converge and to forge collaborative effort for enhanced coordination and policy coherence that could also open an opportunity access to database aimed to monitor and regulate legal recruitment activities held in the BARMM,” Sema said.
“The Department of Migrant Workers recently announced the opening of new job opportunities for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and this opportunity. If well utilized, it will benefit not only those who are engaged in the business of employment and recruitment but also our fellow Bangsamoros who aspire for a better job to alleviate the living conditions of their families,” Sema added.
According to National Project Coordinator Marie Allyssa Dacasin of the ILO, in 2019, about 4.29 million reached the combined total number of 2.18 million OFWs and 2.11 million Overseas Contract Workers (OCWs).
Meanwhile, in 2020, it lowered to 3.48 million due to the restriction effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in labor deployment abroad. In BARMM, about 51,500 overseas workers were recorded in 2019 and 39,190 in 2020.
IOM Project Assistant Jhala Grace Salas mentioned that from Jan. 1 to Nov. 15, 2022, a total of 202 cases of human trafficking has been recorded in the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, and Basilan, and 95 cases in the province of Tawi-Tawi.
“As our ways forward, I do hope that all of the recruitment agencies operating in the Bangsamoro region will be registered and given due accreditation in the MOLE to prevent the act of illegal recruitment and to avoid the cases of human trafficking of our constituents,” Dr. Yahiya Sabal, chief of the Recruitment and Accreditation Division, said.
The summit was attended and participated by representatives from MMML Recruitment Service, Inc.; Eastern Overseas Employment Center, Inc.; EIM Manpower Service, Inc.; Insana International Placement Agency; International Multi-Services; Everpoint Security Agency; Athenna International Manpower Service, Inc.; Mindanao Skills Language and Training Center, Inc.; and Kaagapay Overseas Filipino Workers Research and Services, Inc. (Kasan Usop, Jr./BIO)