The Sarah Villegas experience (with illegal recruiter)

I just would like to share some news from the travails of Sarah Villegas, an OFW who was a victim of illegal recruitment who ended up distressed in Singapore (no jobs).

We posted her appeal to some forums, and we are thankful to kind people who passed her appeal among friends. There were lawyers who volunteered to take her case, pro-bono.

We also caused the publication of Sarah’s letter to the Inquirer’s Global Nation website, under Mailbag.

According to Sarah, as a result of that posting, she received a call from the POEA adminsitrator inquiring about here case, since they receive a letter from the office of Sen. Chiz Escudero regarding Sarah’s case. They (Sarah & co.) were also invited to his office to discuss their case.

Sarah said that she also received e-mails from the offices of Sen. Noynoy Aquino and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada indicating their support on her plight.

Also, other victims of the said illegal recruiter were encouraged to file their own cases with POEA. But during a conciliation meeting sometime in May 13, 2008, a POEA conciliation officer named Rose Andres and a certain Miss Claudette, representative of NRS Recrutiment Agecy, allegedly told the new complainants that NRS agency will file a LIBEL case against Ms. Villegas.

Her lawyer assured Sarah that the libel suit will not prosper, and is just a plain harassment.

We thank everyone who responded to help Ms. Villegas, and consequently provided moral support to other victims to file their claims also.

We will monitor this case, if we see something positive will come out of this collective action, such as: criminal prosecution of the illegal recruiter, return of their advance fees plus interest, blacklisting/delisting of all the dummy agencies of the illegal recruiter, administrative action against erring POEA employees who will be found to have connived with illegal recruiters.

————–

My Letter of Appeal for Support
( Sana Inyong Dinggin at tulungang lutasin )

PLEASE HELP ME: A CALL FOR JUSTICE
(The Voice of a young Filipino who suffered a great and traumatic experience as OFW in Hong Kong)

By: SARAH N. VILLEGAS
Matti, Digos City
Province of Davao del Sur
Contact Number: 09289507404
Email add: sararoejade@yahoo.com.ph

I spent almost P 200, 000.00 in my humble desire to work in Hong Kong. It was very painful to be away from my family. Yet, I gamble because I want to save my family from too much poverty. It was too late to know that a simple dream became a worst nightmare. I almost died to fight for a cause. I didn’t loss hope even until now that I am here… in God’s divine mercy… back in the Philippines with my family.

I am Sarah N. Villegas, married, 35 years old and a native of the province of Davao del Sur. I am just a simple housewife …tried my luck to hopefully take the advantage of going abroad as an OFW.

I know you will agree with me that hundreds if not thousands of Filipinos working abroad or planning to work abroad who encountered serious problems. Admittedly, I am one of them. But my case is different. I have a serious case. Please consider the following facts:

A powerful placement agency like NRS PLACEMENT INC, LOVE MANPOWER AGENCY still deploying OFW’s in different countries who have juicy connections with POEA, still operating their business even behind a lot of charges filed in different courts.

The said agency is having a special arrangement of the employers abroad to earn huge amount of income and bargaining transactions in the expense of a poor Filipino. There are even complainants who only settled for P 10, 000 to P 20, 000.00 from over P 200, 000.00 placement fee including other expenses spent in their application just to avoid lengthy court litigations.
It is a fact that NRS PLACEMENT INC. and LOVE MANPOWER AGENCY is opening different branches like and even establishing new placement agency, name BLS agency just to continue their operations. But I cannot understand why all these agencies are still protected by the POEA.

The POEA aware that most of the recruitment agencies are refusing to give a receipt in every payments has been made by applicants.

Other Conflicts

1. Philippine Government Agencies in Hong Kong like the Philippine Consulate are not really there to serve and solve problems of the OFW’s. The truth is they are conniving with the agencies. I am a witness of different transactions.

2. Most of the victims of injustice and / or illegal recruitment were displaced. Some were arrested, maltreated and sexually abused. Others were lucky and blessed because they knew where to go. In my case, I went to a catholic center where I was given the moral support of the religious community.

Important Consideration

I was instructed by HongKong magistrate court to be a prosecution witness because the evidence collected by Hongkong Police is sufficient to sue my employer.

I reported to the media when I was still in Hong Kong where it created a big story. The impact was great because the Philippine Consulate got panic.
I have all the facts, documents and lead to establish a strong case.

The problem is the case is no longer working for almost a year now.

I decided to go back home after 6 months of initial battle in Hongkong because my situation was very difficult.

I was not allowed by Hongkong Government to have a job because I am a prosecution witness.
Manifestations

My family is in great pain. We could hardly survive because we need to pay our debts.
We need to save other OFW’s who are still in Hong Kong and those who went home with broken dreams particularly the victims of this agency.
There is need for those people involved in this case to be brought to court and be accountable.
The case must be given an utmost attention.

Please help me. It is my prayer that with your support we will be able to solve my problem especially that I am so much affected, not only of my personal convictions but also with my concern with other Filipinos who need your PRECIOUS attention.

Maraming Salamat po!

Sa inyo gumagalang,

SARAH N. VILLEGAS
NLRC CASE NO.

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9 Responses to The Sarah Villegas experience (with illegal recruiter)

  1. naija pinoy says:

    Another YBLS victim of illegal recruitment:
    ———————

    May 28, 2008

    Good day to you Sir/Madam,

    I am Rosalinda Ortega, 23 years old, Davao City. A former Domestic Helper in Singapore.

    Last April 11, 2008, YBLS conducted an interview for their “Fly Now, Pay Later” for Singapore. I applied because I have no money to pay for placement fee for HongKong. I have big trust with the agency that they can make me leave because they said they are accredited.

    On April 26, the employer called me and interviewed me. And then on April 28, my Job Order arrived. They told us to hurry, so we pawned or properties for fare to Manila and to pay travel tax. On May 3, I arrived in Manila with another DH applicant named May Ann. We stayed somewhere in Paranaque.

    Our flight to Singapore is on May 6. We learned that we will go as tourist the day before the flight. We wondered why we have no PDOS and training. Though me and my companion were shock, we cannot refuse because we spend so much money already and we already have ticket to Singapore, though “Fly Now, Pay Later” is what they told my mother. Although we got scared, but we trusted YBLS.

    We arrived in Singapore airport at 6PM. Me and my other companions got separated because we were sent to different agencies. There was a runner from the agency and called our names. I was shock because they shouted at us. Then they send us to a warehouse to stay.

    The place was so dirty. The kitchen also served as bathroom. One could be washing plates here and on the other end, another is urinating or taking a bath. Urine, soap and dirty water pass by the plates because it was just left on the floor. They give us stale foods and looked like leftovers of other persons there.

    The next morning, we were sent for medical checkup. We had a bad experience there. The moment we entered, the Chinese staff shouted at us, verbally abused us, and pointed fingers at us, and shouted “Hey! You Filipina stupid! Crazy! Idiot! Damn you!. I was so scared.

    They gave each of us a bread and no water. We drank water from the tap in comfort room. Then they gave us another bread for lunch. In the evening, they sent us back to the warehouse. They serve as spoiled foods again. I was always crying because I could not stomach the way they treated us.

    After the medical and entry test for work permit, they sent me to an agency named Vista Employment Agency, sister company of our agent in Singapore, the Singkong Agency. This is the agency who interviewed me at YBLS. At Vista, I was given to an employer, and they give me a loan of 2,100 Singaporean dollars. My salaray is 370 Singaporean dollars. 7 months deduction, no day-off, no cellphone use.

    When I arrive in Vista I was met with angry shouting from Sir Nick, Ting Nik Kiong is his full name. He is the owner of Vista. He shouted invectives at me. He would talk to me shouting, I felt like a dog. His favorite line is “Hoy! Stupid! You huh, crazy! Hey idiot, what are you doing? You very stupid Filipina! Ex-clever! Where is your brain, hun?! What do you think of yourself? Princess? Crazy!!. I don’t know what I did wrong. Those are the words he will shout at me every time he has something to ask me. I am always scared and when he noticed it, he will shout at me again for no reason, he just feel like doing it.

    My bad luck multiplied when I was sent to the office of Mam Margaret Choo, his secretary, because it is there that I will be fetched by my employer. She did taught me a little but with a lot of shouting. Every move I make, she shouts, gets angry, curse me. I always hear the words “hey you what are you doing?! You very stupid! Idiot filipina! You Crazy girl!”. It is not only me, but also to other Filipinas and Indonesians. I got a phobia. I never hear these things in my family. I always cried. I suffered self-pity. I lost my self-confidence. I felt so small, but I can’t do anything but cry. I know my work is DH but I am human. I am not a robot that won’t feel pain. I though I would go crazy because of the way they treated me.

    I am not complaining against my work with my employer. But I cannpot work properly because I am always reminded of what happened to me in Vista Agency. I never told my employer about what Vista did to me. I worked for 5 days in a large condo, but never received any money for it. I am always crying in my room or even when I am cleaning. Because of that, my employer sent me back to Vista agency because of poor performance.

    I am a first-timer and YBLS did not give me any training on what will happen to me in Singapore.

    Finally on May 28, I arrive in Davao. I was so happy and relieved everything is over.

    Rosalinda Ortega
    rosalindaortega21@yahoo.com

  2. Rosalinda M. Ortega says:

    To naija pinoy,
    I thanked you so much for translating my page into full English and for posting my story here. It makes me happy that someone like you cared for what happened to me. It’s almost 5 months ago now and i have finally moved on and gained back everything to myself. By God’s grace when i got here in Davao i was paid back by the agency of all the expenses i have plus a 1 month salary. Though it wasn’t very easy to my mother to fight for my rights but with our strong faith to the Lord, Mama won. After weeks, i have no idea that YBLS agency was raid and closed.
    My friend Mae Ann Ricafort got back last July but unfortunately she doesn’t know how to seek help now YBLS got closed 😦 She’s stuck until now in Manila. She had a very dark future ahead, i don’t know how to help her either 😦 What she was going through at her employer’s house was very self degrading. She ran away because the whole days work she only had eaten noodles. She and puppies had 1 room because of this she got rashes on the upper part of her body 😦
    Thank you for the care Naija Pinoy,

    Sincerely,
    Rosalinda

  3. naija pinoy says:

    I am sorry that our assistance to you and her can only be this far.

    What she should do, since she is in Manila, is to go to the office of Sen. Chiz Escudero and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada for assistance. I am sure that her Congressman is of no help to her.

    Good luck.

  4. Rosalinda Ortega 23 says:

    Naija, Thank you so much. Yes i will inform her about this. 🙂 God bless to you. 🙂

  5. Rosalinda Ortega 23 says:

    I have learned a lot from Sarah’s case 😦 Thank you for posting.

  6. naija pinoy says:

    We all should learn from Sarah’s story, and that is — ipaglaban ang ating karapatan, laban sa mga ganid na mga recruitment agency…

  7. haras558 says:

    Sarah Villegas had already won the NLRC case against the Agency. however,the is agency is very powerful, because they have money to bribe the NLRC arbiters and maybe even her lawyer itself.Sarah, Had not informed that there’s a changes in the decission in her case, because her lawyer never informed her and she had not received a letter also from the new decission. It’s unfair to POOR Sarah’s side.But what Sarah can do? money is powerful, right? The agency bribe the NLRC arbiter to change the decission without sending to Sarah a notice for the new decission. the days already lapse to file an apeal.everytime when Sarah contact her lawyer, her lawyer denied to answer her text messages,calls and emails.

  8. haras558 says:

    I hope Sarah Villegas, still have a chance to find justice.

  9. Lisa says:

    Your blog has been one of my favorites of all time. … Thanks for writing such a great blog. I always enjoyed reading it,

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