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PHILIPPINES: Pentecostal Pastor, 12 partners arrested for recruitment scam

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DAVAO CITY -- A pastor of the United Pentecostal Church and 12 other men were arrested Saturday by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Davao for illegal recruitment.

The suspects were arrested around 4 p.m. at the function hall of GV Hotel on Magallanes Street.

Arresting lawmen nabbed Christopher Chavez, 40, who introduced himself as the former station manager of Star FM Cagayan de Oro City, and owner of Fil Savers Advertising and Marketing, located in front of Bantay Bata, ABS Compound, McArthur Highway in Barangay Matina Crossing.

Illegal recruitment cards confiscated from a pastor in Davao City
DAVAO. NBI Davao spokesperson Lawyer Arcelito Albao (right photo) shows some of the bank cards used by Pastor Christopher Chaves, who with his partners allegedly recruit young persons to work for their non-existent company. Each recruit is asked to pay P1,000 accreditation, license, and their ATM. Chaves (above) was arrested by the NBI. (King Rodriguez)

Chavez was nabbed by NBI agents in an entrapment operation after a hundred of his victims complained against him for illegal recruitment.

Business Bureau in Davao City, headed by officer-in-charge lawyer Lawrence Bantiding, also helped the NBI in arresting the suspect.

"Nagduda na kami kasi wala silang business permit at tumatanggap sila ng pera sa mga applicants na in one or two questions hired na agad sila," Bantiding said.

Anne, who requested anonymity, said each of the victims was asked to pay P1,000 on a promise of job placement right away.

The victim, who came all the way from Kidapawan City, went down to the city, hoping that her recruiters will provide her job.

Thor Amora, another victim, said she was asked to work for Chavez as a recruitment assistant, with a promise of P12,000 monthly salary.

"Mitrabaho sab ko kay giingnan man ko niya (Chavez) nga don't worry about legitimation kay naa tay permit. And later na nako nahibaloan nga illegal diay (I worked because Chavez told me not to worry about legitimation since we have permit which I later learned to be illegal)," Amora said.

The victims started suspecting the legality of the business when they were told to be wary about Chavez's illegal business by other pastors (who are not colleagues of the suspect).

"I vehemently deny all their allegations because we do here a legitimate business. In fact, I have here a claim stub from Business Bureau Office for the release of my business permit," Chavez said.

But Bantiding said his office had turned down the suspect's application for business permit after they found out the company's illegal operation.

Chavez denied that the P1,000 payment will go straight to his pocket, as it will be paid to their partner company who will conduct a training on June 30.

"What we do now is recruitment process. And the amount they are paying is part of a job requirement," Chavez said.

Jay Goloran, who is among the suspects invited by NBI for interview, said what they are doing is legal, attributing proof to the pastors from different churches who run the business.

"Di basta-basta ang mga pastor mosulod sa illegal. Ang Fil Saver Advertising and Marketing mag-offer sa libreng advertisement sa mga businesses sa mga negosyante (Pastors will not easily engage in illegal activities. The Fil Savers Advertising and Marketing offers free advertisement for the businesses of the businessmen)," explained Goloran, who belongs to United Pentecostal Church in Carmen, Davao del Norte.

Illegal recruitment operation manager Christopher Chavez arrested in Davao City
Christopher Chavez, 40, who introduced himself as the former station manager of Star FM Cagayan de Oro City, and owner of Fil Savers Advertising and Marketing. (Photo by King Rodriguez)

He said they will advertise their partner companies and, in exchange, these companies will give discounts to the card holders when they buy their products.

"Ang card among ibaligya og P1,000 sa among mga clients. Ang benefits nila mao ang mga discounts nga ihatag sa ila for one year (The card will be sold at P1,000 for the clients. In return, they can avail of the discount benefits for one year)," Golaran added.

Lawyer Arcelito Albao, spokesperson for the NBI-Davao, said they will file charges of large-scale illegal recruitment against the suspect.

"No bail bond recommended ni nga kaso," Albao said, adding the suspect has already recruited around 700 applicants.

Chavez, according to his employees, has been recruiting for two months in Davao City.

The 12 other suspects were freed Sunday afternoon after the NBI found out that they, too, are victims themselves.

"Gibuhian nato tanan after verification nga biktima lang pod sila. Si Chavez lang makasohan nato (We freed them after verifying that they are also victims. We can only file charges against Chavez)," Albao said in a text message. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)