Stressing his commitment to safeguarding migrant workers from human trafficking, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday, November 6, met with overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Kuwait who were victimized by a Filipino illegal recruiter and told them that their case has been served justice.
In 2018, Filipino masseurs in Kuwait were rescued after reaching out to radio host Raffy Tulfo in his show, Raffy Tulfo in Action. Through Tulfo, the victims got in touch with Go and former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary, now House Speaker, Alan Peter Cayetano. Both immediately assisted the OFWs. Go also referred them to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to ensure their safety.
According to the victims, they were employed in three different spas owned by Santi Santero, the convicted suspect. They were promised decent jobs by Santero but instead, they were forced to engage in sexual services including indecent acts depending on how much the customer would offer to pay.
When they were rescued, the victims were then provided a medical check-up at the Philippine General Hospital. They were also given legal assistance in order to pursue the case against the recruiter.
A criminal case was filed against Santero last September 20, 2018, and was eventually arrested. Recently, Manila Regional Trial Court-Branch 42 promulgated a decision finding Santero guilty of Qualified Trafficking in Persons and was sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000).
“Gusto ko lang ibalita sa inyo na ‘ung kinasuhan natin na illegal recruiter na nagtago noon at nahuli. Ngayon, nasentensyahan na siya ng Qualified Trafficking in Persons (with) life imprisonment,” Go said.
He added, “Bagama’t mahigit isang taon bago nabigyan kayo ng hustisya, pagbayaran na niya ngayon ang ginawa niya. At hindi natin palalampasin ang isyung ito tulad ng human trafficking.”
Vowing to continue promoting the welfare of OFWs in the Senate, Go said that he will push for the creation of an executive department for migrant workers to centralize all OFW-related concerns in one government agency.
“Naiintindihan ko po na mas nanaiisin niyong magtrabaho dito sa ating bansa kaysa mapalayo sa inyong pamilya, pero ilan sa atin kailangan talaga magtrabaho sa ibang bansa dahil sa hanapbuhay,” Go said.
“Kaya kami naman, isinusulong ko ang Department of Overseas Filipinos para sa mga OFW at yung karapatan niyo rin po sa LGBT na pantay-pantay po ang trato. Pati na rin po sa lahat po, ipaglalaban natin na palakasin ang anti-discrimination measures sa ating bansa,” he said.
“Panahon na po na mayroon tayong departamento na malalapitan niyo po at mag-aasikaso, at kung humingi kayo ng hustisya, tumulong kasuhan,” he added.
Go also assured the OFWs that he and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will fight for their rights, saying “Rest assured, kami ni Pangulong Duterte…ipaglalaban namin kayo, lalong lalo na po ‘yung naaapi. ‘Yung gobyerno po ni Pangulong Duterte ay para po ‘yan sa hopeless and helpless.”
Go added that his office is always open to assist them and listen to their concerns.
“Sa mga wala pong mga matatakbuhan na, nandito po kami magseserbisyo sa inyo. Parati kong sinasabi yan. Wala na po akong hihilingin sa Panginoon (dahil) binigay na Niya lahat, ginawa na niya akong senador,” said Go, adding that he will repay with public service the support he received from OFWs.
“Katulad ni Pangulong Duterte, ginawa siyang Pangulo. So ibabalik namin sa inyo. At alam niyo po sa Davao noon, hindi po papayag si Pangulong Duterte na may inaapi na Pilipino.”