Missing OFW Joel Tambal. (Photo from Jayrose T. Gallardo)

A family in San Vicente is looking for a missing kin who was last reported to be working on-board a Chinese fishing vessel as an overseas Filipino worker.

The sister of the worker, identified as Joel Tambal, 30, said they lost contact with him after he left for Korea in December last year.

Jayrose Gallardo, sister of the missing overseas worker, told Palawan News on Wednesday that Joel and two other workers from Palawan ended up on a Chinese fishing vessel instead of a Korean company.

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Screenshots from ITF Seafarer’s Support

The recruitment agency, Able Maritime Seafarers, Inc. (AMSI), which reportedly hired the three workers, has been suspended due to various labor violations, according to the local office of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)

Jayrose said they are concerned about their brother’s safety because they haven’t been able to reach him since their last contact on December 3, 2021.

“Four months na namin siyang hindi nakakausap. Ang pinaka main concern namin yong agency nila (AMSI) ay hindi nakiki-cooperate sa amin,” Jayrose said.

Jayrose said they were initially told by her brother that the three of them had been recruited to work in Korea. But they learned just recently that, after getting there, their brother had boarded a Chinese fishing vessel to work.

“Noong December 8 wala na kaming update sa kanya, yon pala nakaalis na sila. Noong nakaraang araw na lang namin nalaman na mali yong vessel na pinasakyan sa kanya,” she added.

She added that the person who they knew was working for the agency and who facilitated his recruitment was already denying that she was the one who recruited his brother.

“May middle person kasi sila (AMSI) dyan sa Binga, yung parang tumutulong sa kanila na mapaalis sila. Ang sabi noong middle person, may kuya siya na engineer sa Korea, yon daw ang nagsusubok na ma-locate kung anong vessel at kung saan sila sa China,” she said.

“Ang gusto na lang namin makauwi siya ng ligtas, kaso hindi namin alam kung saan siya hahanapin,” Jayrose said.

She added that she could no longer locate the recruitment agency. “Kahit yong dati nilang physical office, wala na rin,” she said.

POEA Palawan administrative officer Lourdes Cabanillas confirmed to Palawan News on Wednesday that AMSI is no longer authorized to recruit overseas workers because its license was revoked on February 3.

Cabanillas added that they have also received a similar complaint, which they believe to be related to the same case.

“Actually, may nag-complain din sa amin from San Vicente rin. Parang same case sila, so hindi ako sure kung magkasama silang na-deploy. Korea nga din po yon, and same agency rin,” she said.

“Kailangan may complainant din tayo na family member niya talaga. Kung nasa Cavite siya ngayon, Central Office ang pinaka malapit sa kanya. Mas maganda na rin sa Central Office para at least nandoon lahat ng mag-a-advise sa kanya sa legal. Andoon ang adjudicator namin,” Cabanillas added.

Cabanillas advised those planning to work overseas to deal only with agencies that have “special recruitment authority” (SRA) from them.

“Kung walang maipakita yong agency, red flag na agad yon. Yon kasi dapat ang unang hahanapin ng mga applicants sa agency. Kasi ang special recruitment authority is may date lang siya kung kelan sila puwedeng mag-recruit ng applicants, lalung-lalo na kapag wala silang office doon sa lugar,” she said.

Palawan News has attempted to contact the AMSI for comment multiple times but has yet to receive a response.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.