Illegal recruiter sending migrants to Malta arrested in the Philippines

Hopeful overseas Filipino workers were being charged the equivalent of between €2,000 and €6,000 for “guaranteed” jobs in Malta and Malaysia by an illegal Filipino employment recruiter who was arrested this week.

Jonnalyn Sebastian, 39, was arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippines Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Tuesday as part of a police mission investigating key players in a ‘big-time’ illegal recruitment scheme.

Sebastian allegedly described herself to job seekers as a “coordinator” for “government-to-government” programs and “licensed recruitment agencies”. She was reportedly part of a scheme led by herself, her husband, and two other accomplices operating in the province of Laguna.

Migrant workers who could not pay the fee for deployment would allegedly be loaned money, which could be paid back through salary deductions, by Sebastian. 33 illegal recruitment victims were also saved in the operation, according to a statement from the Department of Migrant Workers.

The Philippine National Police’s Trafficking in Persons unit supported the DMW in the operation.

Jonnalyn Sebastian

Third country nationals and non-EU migrant workers in Malta, both legal and illegal, are commonly exploited in mostly unskilled jobs in what cannot be described as anything but an open secret.

By the end of 2021, Malta had almost 38,000 non-EU workers who were officially declared, according to statistics given in parliament by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana. This statistic does not take into account the many third-country nationals working illegally and undeclared.

Many occupied jobs in administrative and support services, construction, and accommodation and food services, with around 6,000 workers in each of the three categories. More than half of them earned less than €10,000 a year. 11,000 workers earned under €192 for a 40-hour work week.

Philippines illegal recruitment

The 33 victims illegal recruitment victims being counselled by the Department of Migrant Workers. Photo: DMW

Malta had more than 43,500 declared non-EU workers by the end of 2021. The number had climbed to almost 50,600 by June 2022.

A recent white paper titled HomeInclusRation published by the YMCA on homelessness, migration and inclusion, describes how Maltese regulations and laws are “weaponised” by employers to exploit migrant workers.

During the conference for the report’s publishing, it was also revealed that some migrant workers have even been made to sleep on construction sites, with ‘rent’ deducted from their salary. Others face no option but to work with abusive employers, since being unemployed for more than 10 days would mean losing their status as legal foreign workers.

Jonnalyn Sebastian being arrested on Tuesday

Malta is no stranger to stories exposing the obscene conditions and exploitation faced by migrant workers. A poignant example is the migrant worker who was left for dead by the side of the road following a construction site injury in September 2021.

According to YMCA head of home Christian Okyere, such conditions and the frequent exploitation of human trafficking scheme victims, such as the one Sebastian was arrested for, lead to an “environment of modern-day slavery”.


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1 month ago

Who is the Malta Government contact of Sebastian who “allegedly described herself to job seekers as a “coordinator” for “government-to-government” programs and “licensed recruitment agencies”. Is Gafa waiting for instructions?

1 month ago

mafiamalta a shitty place for shitty corruptors, assassins and thievs.

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