Filipino official says he would like to see Pakistani authorities, media supporting Hong Kong, Philippines in this current situation
Russian officials deny any allegations of their linkage to the incident
Over 4,000 undocumented Filipinos currently working in Russia, most of them former HK domestic helpers transiting through the city
LAHORE/HONG KONG: A Pakistani man and his Filipino wife escaped certain arrest after their attempt to recruit Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) for illegal labour work in Russia was thwarted by Filipino officials in Hong Kong.
Jon Meer Ahmed Sameer—who also goes by the name Amir Ahmed Waseem—and his wife Kathleen Floresca Pimentel alias Samantha Kaythe, have reportedly been involved in the illegal trafficking of OFWs for many years. Their most recent attempt was made in Hong Kong near the beginning of the current month, but it was foiled by Philippines’ Labor Attaché in HK Jalilo Dela Torre, who acted on a tip-off from some of their alleged victims.
While Jalilo was able to stop the incident from happening, the couple managed to escape back to Russia. The victims in Russia reported that the woman called off the interviews and flew back hastily to Moscow on Sunday. The couple is now said to be planning to move to another flat to avoid arrest.
Jalilo, talking exclusively to Pakistan Today, said that he was tipped off by a Filipino community newspaper, and that the Philippines Consulate General has already endorsed the matter to the Labor Department of Hong Kong.
He went on to add that he would like to see Pakistani authorities, the media and people supporting Hong Kong and the Philippines in this current near-crisis situation.
“Human trafficking to Russia of our women from HK and other countries, like Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia etc., is now the hottest issue here. We hope you can help in sustaining the issue. After all, he is a Pakistani national, and we don’t want the good image of your country tarnished by him,” he told Pakistan Today.
The official, in an online post, has said: “Forced labour and human trafficking. This is the business model of Jon Meer Ahmed Sameer, married to Kathleen Floresca Pimentel, who have together recruited hundreds of Filipinas, and just practically left them on their own to look for a job and survive by their own wits.”
When asked how he would want the help of the Pakistani authorities, Jalili listed five points:
Cooperation with their Embassy in Moscow to build a case against Sameer
Seeking help from Interpol and other law enforcement agencies to prevent and prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking
Reporting to Facebook and other social media incidences of human trafficking
To join other nations at the UN to condemn this crime and take active steps in preventing it
Engaging in a massive information dissemination campaign to inform citizens about the dangers of human trafficking
The third point is particularly interesting considering that everything—including the tip-off, the revelation and the subsequent backlash and the Russian response—took place exclusively over social media. Moreover, upon further investigation, Pakistan Today found that the Facebook profiles Jon and his wife were using were promptly deleted soon after Jalilo made the information public to warn workers from signing up with the couple.
It was also interesting to note that the Russian officials have curtly denied any allegations of their linkage to the incident, despite general and obvious claims that the Pakistani-Filipina couple is being given shelter by them.
When contacted, the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong shared a press release with Pakistan Today, which said, “We were unpleasantly surprised to see the article ‘Russia Connection in Maid Smuggle Probe’ published today in The Standard newspaper. We would like to stress that all visa requests of the Philippine citizens, who would like to enter the territory of the Russian Federation, are processed by the Consulate General of Russia strictly in accordance with the current legislation.”
It went on to say that “at present no detailed information concerning any exact cases has been received by the Consulate General of Russia in Hong Kong.”
Despite repeated attempts, Pakistan Today was unable to get a comment from Philippines’ embassy in Russia.
According to South China Morning Post, over 4,000 undocumented Filipinos were currently working in Russia, most of them former Hong Kong domestic helpers transiting through the city.
Most victims were trafficked to Russia, but some were also sent to Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Brazil—after paying “excessive” middleman fees.
Meanwhile, on Friday, Hong Kong’s officers from the Labour Department teamed up with police to swoop on three employment agencies amid the recent revelations that thousands of Filipino domestic helpers were reportedly trafficked to other countries for bogus jobs.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor vowed to take “vigorous enforcement action” against any local employment agencies that illegally arranged for foreign domestic helpers to work abroad in the wake of a clampdown by the Philippine government.
“I, alongside the chief secretary and the secretary for labour and welfare, are all very concerned about the issue and have been consistently in touch with the Philippine Consul-general in Hong Kong,” Lam said.
It is pertinent to mention here that Manila imposed a three-week ban on the export of labour by suspending the issue of overseas employment certificates, which are needed by those wishing to work overseas.
The ban by the Philippine authorities was announced last Friday, citing “persistent reports of illegal recruitment” and “pernicious activities of certain unscrupulous individuals preying on Filipinos.”