Manila: Illegal recruiters have been warned not to take advantage of jobless people in Bohol and Cebu, in central Philippines, which were devastated by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, a senior official said.

“These illegal recruiters are like vultures that hover in the air over potential prey [in the earthquake-devastated areas],” said Hans Cacdac, administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), after he received orders from Labour Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to immediately organise a job fair in Bohol and Cebu.

Residents seeking overseas jobs should verify with the labour department and POEA whether recruiters are accredited before accepting any job offer from them, Cacdac said. He added that law enforcement agencies and civic organisations were also ordered to be on alert for suspicious recruitment and trafficking activities in Bohol and Cebu.

“It is better for the POEA to be first in facilitating the employment of workers who were displaced by the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu. Illegal recruiters might take advantage of the situation and victimise those who are already victims of this tragedy,” said Baldoz.

Baldoz said POEA will also invite employers to post their local job requirements in central Philippines on the online portal, Phil-jobnet. He added that the job fair will be conducted simultaneously with the livelihood projects of the government in affected areas in central Philippines.

There are nine million OFWs worldwide, who are expected to send $24 billion (Dh88 billion) to their relatives in the Philippines this year alone.

The government has been trying to eradicate the problem of illegal recruiters who prey on workers, particularly women, who are desperate to work abroad given the high unemployment rate in the Philippines.

The earthquake killed at least 200.