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US DOJ probing complaint

By Rodney J. Jaleco
WASHINGTON D.C. Six Filipino teachers are braving possible deportation to expose the activities of an alleged illegal recruiter that highlights the ugly side of the race to fill teaching jobs in America.
The mentors, recruited from all over the Philippines, were supposed to fill vacancies in Virginia and North Carolina.
They agreed to talk to TFCs Balitang America on condition their faces and names are not shown, although they furnished copies of their formal complaints against the recruiter.
The affidavits have been submitted to the Labor Department and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) through the Philippine Embassy here, as well as the U.S. Justice Department, according to Migrant Heritage Commission executive director Arnedo Valera.
The Justice Department is now looking into the complaints and other Filipino teachers are worried by a possible backlash as a result of this case. (See story and more photos on page 4.)
Valera said they have filed charges of human trafficking and illegal recruitment against Isidro Rodriguez of World Goal Corporation in Manila, and the firms U.S. affiliate Greenlife Care International based in Fresh Meadows, New York.
(In Manila, meanwhile, Isidro Rodriguez, who claimed to be the owner of World Goal, reacted by saying he will file criminal and civil cases against his business partner, Aurara Calo, and the five teachers for sabotaging his business. He denied the charges.
In a story published in the Business Mirror March 19, Rodriguez said the teachers that we have deployed already have their social security numbers and working visas that are good for three years. This is prematurely judged, a sabotage, and they are disabling the business, said lawyer Maximo Modesto Flores, Rodriguezs legal counsel.
(Rodriguez told reporters the indictments thrown at him did not only ruin the reputation of his family and company but also the hopes of teachers that are aspiring to provide their families a comfortable life.)
They held a dialogue with Ambassador Willy Gaa last week to complain of slow action by Philippine authorities. They alleged that Rodriguez continued to recruit teachers for the U.S.
The teachers allegedly paid Rodriguez from $10,000 to $15,000 each for processing fees, teaching licenses and their housing and transportation here. They showed photocopies of receipts to prove their allegations.
They were reluctant to go public with their complaints because Rodriguez and his agent in New York, a certain Allan Chen had reportedly threatened to report them to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
He told me to pack my things because he was calling the police and they will drag me to the airport, one teacher told Balitang America. Valera explained the teachers, already victimized, were being further terrorized by the threats which reportedly included phone calls to their families in the Philippines.
They have nothing to go back to. They sold properties, borrowed money to pay fees demanded by their recruiter in Manila. If they go home now, they are returning to a mountain of debt and an uncertain future, Valera averred.
Teacher A, who was supposed to work at the Mecklenburg County Public Schools in Virginia, said she was lured by newspaper ads. Teacher B, who was recruited for the Roanoke City Public Schools also in Virginia, met Rodriguez through a fellow teacher. He left his job in July 2007 because he was told he was all set to leave for the U.S. He managed to leave only last September by that time, Roanoke school officials had cancelled his contract because classes had already started. He left anyway, he said, because Rodriguez promised to find him another teaching job when he got here.
Teacher C was hired to fill a vacancy at the Northampton County Schools in North Carolina. Isidro Rodriguez called me again to tell me to take a leave of absence from work because I will depart anytime, she says in her affidavit. After learning the school had backed out, she said Rodriguez promised to place us in another school?I paid $10,500 excluding airfare.
Penniless and jobless, Teacher C said she demanded that Rodriguez give back the $1,600 she paid for her housing here (that turned out to be non-existent). He gave her a check for $800. The check bounced.
The tale of deceit went on and on in the teachers affidavits.
But Aurora Banas is not a teacher and still found herself victimized. She said she pitied the newly arrived teachers because they had nowhere to go. She opened her home, first to two teachers, then four more, then two more. Shes now unsure just how many of them she sheltered for free, although all of them had paid Rodriguez housing rentals before leaving Manila.
But Banas joined the teachers complaint when Rodriguez allegedly failed to pay her the $200,000 he borrowed, ostensibly to help other Filipino teachers. The money was Banas pension fund that she cashed out early to lend Rodriguez.
Renato Nicolas is another non-teacher. He allegedly paid Rodriguez $15,000 after he reportedly told Nicolas he can bring his two sisters and a brother-in-law, all teachers back home, to work in the U.S.
Balitang America sought a reaction from Allan Chen, allegedly Rodriguezs U.S. agent but messages left on their listed phone number went unanswered.
The fact that they were recruited for non-existent jobs here make these acts liable for the crime of human trafficking, Valera explained.
He said the USCIS has already launched an investigation, and the U.S. Department of Justice through the Civil Rights division is evaluating the teachers affidavits.
The Fil-Am community is supporting the moves because, like it or not, the victimized teachers have become a part of that community when they arrived in America. It is imperative that these activities are exposed so we can avoid more teachers falling victims, Valera stressed.
He said it was possible there are other recruitment companies engaged in this type of activity, drawn by the profits they could make filling the teacher shortage in parts of the U.S.
An indication of the problems magnitude, Valera disclosed they have received up to a hundred feelers from supposed victims. Its really up to them if they want come out and tell the public what happened when they were recruited, he averred.
The Business Mirror story
MANILA After he was accused of illegal recruitment and trafficking of Filipino teachers to Virginia and North Carolina, a recruitment-company owner said he will file court cases worth P3 million against his former business partner and some deployed teachers.
Worldgoal Corp. owner Isidro Rodriguez said he will file libel and civil cases against his former business partner Aurora Calo and five deployed teachers in the Philippines and in the United States.
Rodriguez explained: Calo and her groups accusation that Worldgoal sent teachers to the US to find their own jobs or fill a different job isnt true.
He continued, How could that be? The teachers that we have deployed already have their social security numbers and working visas that are good for three years. And there is no direct hiring in the US.
We will file a libel case for criminal and civil case for moral damages worth P3 million. This is prematurely judged, a sabotage, and they are disabling the business, said lawyer Maximo Modesto Flores, Rodriguezs legal counsel.
Rodriguez told reporters the indictments thrown at him did not only ruin the reputation of his family and company but also the hopes of teachers that are aspiring to provide their families a comfortable life.

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