Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla yesterday assured the 400 Filipinos allegedly victimized by an Italy-based immigration consultancy firm that the Department of Justice will take the necessary steps to help them.
"Affidavits will be taken so they can properly complain and put together a case. Whatever it is, we will help them draw out the truth," said Remulla, adding that he has assigned Chief State Counsel Dennis Chan "to come up with a few draft affidavits so we can assist these people para di na sila maghahanap ng abogado."
Earlier, some 400 Filipinos who said they were duped into shelling out large sums of money in exchange for employment opportunities in Italy found an ally in Senator Risa Hontiveros who filed a resolution Wednesday calling for an investigation into the alleged recruitment scam.
The Daily Tribune has run a series on the alleged scam by Alpha Assistenza SRL, an Italy-based immigration consultancy firm. In Senate Resolution 814, Hontiveros detailed the alleged fraudulent scheme of the immigration consultancy firm that preyed on Filipinos dreaming of working in the European country.
"It is alleged that Alpha Assistenza SRL provided over 400 Filipino 'victims' with falsified Nulla Osta, a document issued by Italian immigration authorities authorizing a non-European Union national to apply for a work visa at an Italian embassy or consulate," the resolution read.
"The falsified Nulla Osta resulted in the rejection of the victims' applications when the said documents were presented to the Italy Visa Application Center (VIA PIASI Center)," it added.
The senator said the Filipino applicants were met at the VIA PIASI Center located in Makati City by a Philippine agent designated in electronic messages by Krizelle Respicio, Alpha Assistenza SRL's chief executive officer and immigration consultant.
She said the State is mandated by the Constitution to afford full protection to laborers, both local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and to promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.
Hontiveros added: "Because of the principle of territoriality, our statutes are generally only effective within Philippine territory; and there is thus an urgent need to protect Filipinos from possible recruitment perpetuated by companies based overseas."
In an interview on Daily Tribune's digital show "Usapang OFW" last week, several complainants, namely Vanessa Antonio, Enrique Catilo and Apple Cabasis, said Alpha Assistenza SRL headed by Filipino co-CEOs Krizelle Respicio and Frederick Dutaro may have duped more than 400 Filipinos.
They also accused Consul General Elmer Cato of ignoring their grievances against Alpha Assistenza SRL.