Mugshots of suspects (L-R) Eladio Bendanillo and Melissa Cruz
MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Anti Transnational Crime Unit raided a unit at Qubix Residences in Pedro Gil Street in Paco, Manila on Wednesday (November 21).
Authorities arrested live-in partners Eladio Cabrera and Melissa Cardona who were reported by three complainants who happened to be job applicants for Dubai and Qatar.
“They were promised with salaries of up to $1500 a month. Allegedly pagdating doon mayroong sasalo sa kanilang agency at merong sponsors na mga Pilipino rin na nagtratrabaho sa Dubai,” explained PSupt. Roque Merdegia Jr. CIDG-ATCU Chief referring to the illegal recruitment activities of the suspects.
One of the victims narrated that she already gave the suspects P30,000 in exchange for an affidavit of sponsorship allegedly coming from the Consulate Office in Dubai and Qatar.
“Noong September po nagbigay kami ng paunang bayad P20,000 po ang hiningi sa amin hanggang tumagal po ng tumagal. November na po ngayon di pa rin po kami nakakaalis. Hiningan po kami ng karagdagang P10,000 may nakapagsabi po sa amin na ilegal po sila at yung ginagamit sa red ribbon ay fake daw. Kaya humingi na po kami mg tulong dito sa mga pulis,” recalled one of the victims alias Gemma.
When they checked on the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the victims found out that the couple was not among the agency’s registered recruiters for Dubai and Qatar.
Authorities seized from the suspects’ computer units, a number of dry seals of various Philippine Consulate in the Middle East which they used to fake documents.
Merdegia noted, however, that what’s more alarming is that individuals with fake documents sometimes deceive immigration officers at the airport.
“Ang nakakaalarma rito, nakakalusot sa immigration o sa terminal itong mga taong gumagamit ng mga pekeng sponsorship and assurance, nakakalusot,” he said.
The two suspects are now facing charges of illegal recruitment, swindling, and falsification of public document. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)