THE Philippine Consulate General in Milan reiterated its warning to Filipinos seeking employment opportunities in Italy for their relatives in the Philippines not to fall victim to fraudulent immigration and recruitment schemes.
The advisory was issued a few days ahead of the scheduled submission of applications for work visas under the decreto flussi program of the Italian government that would allow the hiring of as many as 452,000 foreign workers in the next three years.
This comes in the wake of the controversy involving the same program where more than 200 Filipino job seekers in the Philippines were allegedly defrauded of as much as €3,000.00 each by a Milan-based immigration consulting firm, Alpha Assistenza SRL.
Consul General Elmer G. Cato said cases of aggravated fraud are expected to be filed in the coming days against Alpha Assistenza by the Italian lawyer hired by the Department of Foreign Affairs to represent 100 complainants based in Italy who transacted with the agency on behalf of their relatives in the Philippines.
Cato said the Consulate is monitoring other individuals and agencies involved in what he described as predatory practices that take advantage of the vulnerabilities of Filipinos seeking alternative ways of bringing their relatives in the Philippines to Italy.
He said the Consulate has received information that certain individuals and agencies required a €500.00 reservation fee as soon as the decreto flussi program was announced.
Others were reported to have charged as much as €5,000.00 to process work visa applications.
“The Consulate and the Migrant Workers Office (MWO) of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) remind kababayan on the need to exercise caution and vigilance to avoid being victimized by those who are expected to take advantage of the decreto flussi program by charging exorbitant fees to secure jobs for their relatives in the Philippines,” the Consulate said in its latest advisory.
“Kababayan should know that while the Philippines is among 30 countries covered by the decreto flussi program, there is no assurance that applications for work visas will be approved,” the Consulate said.
“Kababayan should also note that only employers who are issued an authorization to hire workers under this decree (Nulla Osta) can validly apply for a work visa for their potential workers,” it added.
The Consulate also pointed out that a foreign employer who wishes to hire a Filipino worker from the Philippines must also comply with DMW requirements for recruitment and deployment through the MWO.
A foreign employer must engage the services of a DMW-licensed Philippine Recruitment Agency (PRA) and that both the foreign employer and the PRA must be accredited with the DMW before the Filipino worker can be legally deployed abroad, the Consulate said.
“Kababayan are also reminded that under Philippine laws, any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, including referring contract services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, by a non-DMW-licensed individual or entity, is considered illegal recruitment,” the Consulate said.
Cato said Filipinos who feel that they may have been victimized may get in touch with the Consulate through MWO at email: [email protected] or Whatsapp: +393756572333 and the ATN Section at email: [email protected] or WhatsApp: +39389683076.