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CEBU CITY -- Operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 (Central Visayas) have caught a 40-year-old woman and two of her staff in the act of conducting illegal recruitment activities.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Regional Center for Visayas chief, Evelia Durato, identified the suspects late Tuesday as Marichu Caitor-Variation, manager of HYVA/I-Employ, and her staff, Jenelyn Martino and Janet Desales.

Durato said Variation and her cohorts were arrested in an entrapment operation at the 7th floor of the LUYM Building on Osmeña Blvd. corner Plaridel St. here Sunday, as they were victimizing aspiring hotel workers applying for Finland.

The CIDG-7 conducted the operation after the POEA informed them of HYVA/I-Employ’s illegal recruitment activities.

Durato said Variation and staff were clearly engaged in illegal activities as they operate mostly only on weekends and at nighttime from 6 p.m. to midnight.

She said they received an anonymous letter complaint and immediately contacted the authorities after learning that HYVA/I-Employ has no license to operate as a recruitment agency.

“HYVA or I-Employ has not been issued a license or authority to recruit by the POEA. To our knowledge, there were already more than a thousand applicants who were victimized by the suspects, clearly taking advantage of the applicants’ vulnerabilities,” Durato said.

She warned the public, especially those aspiring to work abroad, to first check and verify the status of registration of recruitment agencies at the POEA to be safe.

CIDG-7 deputy director, Chief Insp. Hector Amancia, in a separate interview, said the suspects were arrested after receiving PHP1,000 in marked money from one of their operatives posing as an applicant.

Seized from the suspects’ possession were log books, transaction reports, applicant referral slips, personal data sheets of applicants, including their bank loan applications and Bureau of Internal Revenue ID information, among others.

Department of Labor and Employment 7 Director Johnson Cañete, meanwhile, lauded the POEA for its prompt response and thanked CIDG-7 chief, Supt. Lito Patay, for giving the matter immediate action.

The suspects are in the custody of CIDG-7 while waiting for formal charges to be filed against them in violation of Republic Act No. 10022, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995. (PNA)

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