Singaporean arrested over illegal recruitment of Filipino maids

A Singaporean and 13 Filipinos have been arrested in connection with the alleged illegal recruitment of maids to work in Singapore.

Police said Singaporean Yvonne Phua, 55, was arrested along with a Filipino couple, Michael and Joy Abellar, during a raid last Friday.

Chief Inspector Elizabeth Jasmin, a spokesman for the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), told The Straits Times yesterday that Phua was inspecting maids recruited by the Abellars, in her role as liaison for her husband's business.

"He owns one of the recruiting agencies. She visited the Philippines to check on the maids being trained," said the chief inspector.

Phua was charged yesterday with illegal recruitment and human trafficking, a non-bailable offence. Her case was also referred to the Bureau of Immigration. She is currently being held at a CIDG detention facility.

A joint CIDG and National Bureau of Investigation task force found 39 women reportedly being prepared for travel to Singapore, during a raid of the Abellars' offices in Las Pinas, south of Manila.

Chief Inspector Jasmin confirmed that the Abellars were working as recruiters for PEM Maid Employment Agency. An online check showed the name matches an agency in Singapore with an address in Woodlands.

The raid followed complaints filed by five women against PEM. They claimed they were asked to pay placement fees for jobs in Singapore that never materialised.

"The agency is not duly authorised to recruit and deploy overseas Filipino workers," said the chief inspector in a statement.

Also arrested were suspects identified only as Eric, Emma and Mandy, and eight others who were not named - all described as "trainers".

rdancel@sph.com.sg

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