FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 18, 2013
Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, email@example.com
Nicole Cunanan, Vice Chair of Propaganda & Cultural Affairs, GABRIELA Washington, D.C., Nicole@gabrieladc.org
GABRIELA USA Exposes Human Trafficking Scheme at the Nation’s Capital on International Migrants Day
WASHINGTON—On Dec. 18, 2013, International Migrants Day, GABRIELA USA, an alliance of Filipina women’s organizations across the United States, stands with the GABRIELA Washington, D.C. chapter to expose the trafficking of teachers from the Philippines to the U.S.
Since 2003, the Philippine-based labor recruitment agency, Renaissance Staffing Support Center (formerly known as Great Provider Service Exporters, Inc. and World Goal Corporation) represented by its president, Isidro Rodriguez and its U.S. partner Green Life Care International, LLC have been trafficking teachers to the U.S. The agency promised applicants high salaried jobs with benefits in public schools in North Carolina and Washington, D.C. It also promised them housing and transportation. Applicants were required to attend various expensive seminars and pay excessive fees to successfully secure H1B visas. Teachers paid between $18,000 to over $20,000 for the entire process. In many cases, their passports were held until they submitted the entire fee amount and were not returned until their departure for the U.S.
When teachers arrived to the U.S., their promised jobs did not exist, leaving them to fend for themselves.
Some teachers have even reported that recruitment-agency owner Rodriguez also committed various acts of sexual harassment against female teachers and asked for sexual favors in exchange for papers. If victims voiced concerns or went against the recruiter, they were threatened to be deported or told that their families will be harmed.
“This illegal recruitment and trafficking scheme made us suffer in slave-like conditions and in debt bondage. We sacrificed so much just to try to support our families back home and we are still trying to survive day-to-day,” stated Ma. Fen Ecleo, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA Washington, D.C. and one of the trafficking victims.
“This situation with the teachers is not an isolated case, and is an example of a larger systemic problem in the Philippines,” says Tina Shauf, Vice Chair of Campaigns of GABRIELA USA. GABRIELA USA demands that the Philippine government ensure that true justice is delivered to the the teachers as they pursue legal cases against Rodriguez and Renaissance Staffing Support Center. Rodriguez should be jailed for the crimes he has committed and the teachers should get full compensation for debts. GABRIELA USA also demands that the teachers get T visas, as human trafficking victims, so they can continue to work and live in the US without fear of deportation. We call on the Filipino community and our allies to support the teachers’ ongoing legal cases in both the Philippines and the U.S.
“The Philippine government hails the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) as “Modern Heroes” and yet in their time of need, the OFWs are treated with apathy,” said Jo Quiambao, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA DC. “Workers’ remittances to the country keep the economy afloat but the government fails to address the concerns and well-being of distressed OFWs.”
On the occasion of International Migrants Day, aside from recognizing the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide, GABRIELA USA calls on the Philippine government not only to respond to the problems of migrant workers in the host countries, but to also address the root causes of migration which is poverty and underdevelopment in the Philippines.