12 July 2023
Illegal recruitment scam victims troop to DMW, NBI to seek justice
Victims of a large-scale illegal recruitment scheme trooped to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) today to file a case against the CEO of companies that asked for more than PhP 100,000 in payment from each of thousands of victims in the Philippines and other countries.
The victims filed complaints against former Cebu City councilor Prisca Nina Mabatid, CEO of PCVC Opportunities Abroad, Pinoy Care Visa Center, and PCVC-Opportunities Abroad, which they claim have been luring, recruiting, and deceiving Filipinos throughout the country including OFWs in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Japan and other countries.
According to the victims, they were told by the companies to apply, between 2017 and early 2023, for student visas to Canada, with the promise of three months in processing time, and of getting jobs that will allow them to pay for tuition fees and living expenses. They were asked to pay more than PhP 100,000 each, or avail of a lower PhP 94,000 fee within a three- to five-day promotion period.
The victims were told the payment is required before their application is processed. After they paid, they were asked to sign a memorandum of agreement indicating that the fees collected from them are non-refundable. They were also given a list of requirements they were not told about beforehand, and are difficult to fulfill. In most cases, staff members of Mabatid’s company stopped responding to their questions and concerns or became hostile when they asked for a refund.
“Nina Mabatid and her company have stolen millions of pesos from hard-working Filipinos and OFWS who dream of a better life and economic security. These amounts should be returned immediately to her victims. What she and her associates did is blatant illegal recruitment, if not human trafficking. They should be punished. The government should investigate and act on this large-scale scam,” said Joanna Concepcion, Migrante-International chairperson.
“Mabatid peddled false and unrealistic promises. Despite the huge fees paid by the victims, their applications to Canada were never fully processed. The government should do something more to protect our kababayans from such frauds,” Concepcion added.
Mabatid herself and her staff have also issued threats of suing anyone who complained about their operations or branded them as dishonest, citing the illegal MOA as basis. Despite countless complaints against Mabatid and her companies, they continue to organize and hold seminars throughout the country and overseas.
Victims across the Philippines say they learned of the recruitment through social media posts of their local PESO offices as well as local government officials who openly promoted the illicit activities. Meanwhile, overseas, OFWs were enticed to apply by the promise personally made by Mabatid of a “loan” of P1 million which they are meant to present as proof to Canadian authorities of their financial capability. With the supposed endorsements of celebrities like Senator Raffy Tulfo, Atty. Gareth Tungol, and Boy Abunda, the company gained the trust of the victims.
Last month, OFW victims in Hong Kong filed a complaint against Mabatid and other individuals involved in the illegal recruitment scheme, including a well-known OFW blogger who promoted Mabatid’s seminars, to the Hong Kong Police and the Philippine Migrant Workers Office through the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong.
The HK Police has elevated the case to criminal investigators after Mabatid reneged on a promise to return the money of eight complainants, while the DMW says it is still investigating the case.###