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In March 2024, I received a message from a sister in Jakarta working in VIVAT Indonesia, requesting to help an Indonesian woman Joy, who escaped the company that recruited her as a marketing agent, but was asked to do scamming. After two weeks, and not being able to tolerate it anymore, she escaped the company with two other Indonesian women, Nadia and Neera, both had arrived in the Philippines in December 2023. Neera is a 25 years old single mom with a 7-year-old daughter. She has a brother who was recruited by the same company and decided to stay until he pays the debt. Nadia is 23 years old and she has a brother and sister-in-law recruited by the same company.


After a lot of difficulties in getting an appointment and some days of waiting, the embassy finally received them. While a lady interviewed them, two men appeared and were introduced as the company representatives. They presented a list explaining that the Indonesians could get their passports only after paying their debts. Joy – 7,000 pesos; Neera – 93,000 pesos and Nadia 60,000 pesos. They also promised to get their passports if they could pay any amount right then. Joy said that she had 5,000 pesos, they accepted it and returned Joy's passport. Neera said she had 10,000 pesos and that she needed to withdraw from her ATM. I accompanied her to withdraw the money and when we came back these men said that it was too little and that their boss did not accept. Nadia had no money at all. Neera agreed to add another 10,000 but they did not accept it. So, we left the embassy without their passports.


Joy was able to return to Indonesia because her visa was still valid. There was a plan to drop by the company to get her suitcase, but we decided not to go to that company anymore. 


We explained to Neera and Nadia that it was useless to get their passports because their visas had already expired. The men demanded 35,000 pesos from Neera and were forcing her to bring the money even late in the evening. This made me suspect that they might do something to force them to go back to the company. Neera and Nadia agreed to report their case to the police and knowing they had no other choice because of their expired visa and lack of money to pay their debts.


Finally, we were welcomed by the representatives of IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking) and the DOJ (Department of Justice) who interviewed them. They were promised a new passport and visa in order to return to their country. They were also accepted to stay in IACAT’s shelter for trafficked persons and were repatriated safely to Indonesia on May 28th, and IJM (International Justice Mission) is helping them to reach their families. 


Sr. Evelyn Jose, SSpS, TK Philippines


June 26th, 2024