Ex-overseas Filipino worker held for Ecija illegal recruitment

SAN JOSE CITY – Police on Tuesday night arrested a former overseas Filipino worker for large-scale illegal recruitment charges after she allegedly duped several ukay-ukay market vendors, tricycle drivers and a seaman here of their hard-earned money worth thousands of pesos in exchange for non-existent jobs in Canada and New Zealand.

City police head Lt. Col. Heryl L. Bruno identified the arrested suspect as Marivel Santiago, 39, alias Mavel, ex-OFW from Saudi Arabia, of Zone 6, Sitio Campo Jr., Sto. NiHo 2nd, this city.  

Her arrest was carried out at 6:40 p.m. by warrant operatives led by Staff Sergeant Jimmy Isidro based on an arrest warrant for the said charges issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 38 Judge Leo Cecilio D. Bautista.

Upon learning of the arrest, at least 13 of 14 of the suspect’s victims came over to the police station yesterday and thanked the authorities for acting swiftly on their complaints against the suspect.

The group was led by Marilou Casada, 42, an ukay-ukay vendor who said that several others from as far as Manila and other adjacent provinces are also expected to surface and file additional cases against her.

Casada said she and several others were hoodwinked and recruited to work as fruit pickers and packers in a farm in New Zealand with a monthly salary of P80,000 to P100,000 in exchange for a P22,000 fee each paid in full to the suspect.

Kimberly Pascual, a government worker who came along with her sister-in-law Jessa Jane Pascual, whose husband-seaman Edward was also victimized, said they applied for hotel cleaners and factory workers in Canada and paid the suspect at her house the amount of P27,000 each.

The suspect also promised that they will receive a salary of P60,000 to P80,000 a month.  

“Nabisto na namin siya kaya naghabla na kami matapos niya kaming lokohin at papuntahin doon sa NAIA Terminal 3 nitong Sept. 23 at lilipad na daw kami paalis ng bansa para magtrabaho sa New Zealand at Canada pero ayun kasama namin siya sa NAIA noong alas onse ng gabi na iyon puro kalokohan lang pala. At ni isang travel document kahit ticket sa eroplano o visa wala siyang binibigay sa amin,” the victims told this reporter yesterday.