Trafficked Filipino teachers launch “Teach Them A Lesson” global campaign via OBR dance at the DOJ

A group of teachers victimized by an elaborate trafficking scheme in the Philippines today launched a global campaign entitled, “Teach Them A Lesson”, following the recent dismissal of the trafficking in persons (TIP) criminal case they filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against their traffickers.

Together with supporters, advocates and friends, the teachers held a picket protest at the DOJ this morning. They also launched the campaign through a “One Billion Rising” dance protest, led by OBR Global Director Monique Wilson inside the DOJ premises.

GURO, or “Grupo ng mga Gurong Umuusig kay Rodriguez”, bewailed the DOJ’s dismissal of the first batch of TIP against Isidro Rodriguez et al dated October 24, 2014, on grounds that the court found no probable cause to lodge the criminal complaint. The complainants had already filed a motion for reconsideration last November 10, 2014, as well as a motion for urgent resolution for the preliminary investigation of at least 20 cases of large-scale and syndicated illegal recruitment and estafa against the same respondents.

GURO represents at least 300 teachers in the Philippines and the United States who were victimized by Rodriguez. Rodriguez, through his agency Renaissance Staffing Support Center (formerly Great Provider Service Exporters, which is licensed by the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration), was able to dupe hundreds of teachers by offering them fictitious jobs in the United States. Rodriguez was able to collect an average of P500,000 from each of his victims. He recruited teachers in batches, with each batch consisting of about 10 to 15 victims. Migrante International is currently aware of at least 20 batches who have filed cases against him.

Some of the teachers were able to leave the country, only to realize that no jobs awaited them in the US. The US-based teachers have already filed human trafficking cases against Rodriguez in the US and have been granted T-Visas (trafficked visas) by US courts. Meanwhile, majority of the teachers remain in the country and only learned about Rodriguez’ treachery when he was arrested last November 2013. The Philippine-based teachers have filed case upon case of estafa and illegal recruitment in large scale against Rodriguez et al, while three batches have already filed trafficking in persons cases against him.

In the US, trafficked teachers also held a simultaneous gathering and acitivity to launch the campaign.

According to Loel Naparato, spokesperson of GURO, they are deeply saddened by the DOJ’s decision. “How can we be expected to have faith in our justice system with this development? We are fully aware of Rodriguez’ very broad clout in different government agencies, even possibly in the US and PH immigration, he could not have operated for years without them. Does this mean that Rodriguez is also powerful in the judiciary?” Rodriguez remains at large as of this posting.

“It is in this light that ‘Teach Them A Lesson’ has come to light. Today is the first year anniversary of our trafficker’s entrapment by the DOJ. One year, still no justice and many more are being victimized. Together with other victims, survivors, our students, friends, families and fellow teachers, let us teach them a lesson against abuse and exploitation. Let us teach them a lesson against trafficking. Let us teach them a lesson for justice,” Naparato said.

Teach Them A Lesson: A campaign for justice for trafficked teachers

Through “Teach Them A Lesson”, we hope to push for the speedy resolution of specific cases of trafficking and highlight the gravity of the trafficking problem itself.  We hope to make perpetrators like Rodriguez accountable. More importantly, it shall expose the government’s ineptitude and hypocrisy in the anti-trafficking campaign in the light of its continuing program for labor export. 

“Teach Them A Lesson” aims to raise awareness and broaden support for victims of human trafficking. It shall stress the need for unity and solidarity between victims and survivors, on one hand, and their allies and supporters, on the other hand, by highlighting the importance of our teachers in our personal lives and in society.

“Teach Them A Lesson” means forging the broadest global unity possible against human trafficking through various activities and actions that would link international participation through grassroots activities, militamt actions, global linkages, lobbying efforts, social media and other creative means of protest.

Culmination dates are on December 12 International Day against Trafficking, December 18 International Migrants’ Day, February 14 One Billion Rising: Rise for Revolution, March 8 International Women’s Day, March 17 Death Anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, June 7 National Migrants Day and the upcoming Permanent People’s Tribunal against Aquino to be held in Washington, DC in July 2015. Majority of Rodriguez’ victims in the US are presently based in Washington, DC.

The campaign is a year-long campaign. A “Vagina Monologues” play is targeted to be staged on December 12, while an internationally-coordinated action is slated on December 18, International Migrants’ Day. ###