BI foils human-trafficking attempt at NAIA

March 27, 2015 2:08 am 

MANILA, March 26 — Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers on Thursday have blocked the entry of four alleged human trafficking syndicates at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 4 for attempting to traffic 16 victims to malaysia last March 4.

According to BI, the 16 passengers (names have been withheld for their safety) attempted to depart for Kuala Lumpur, malaysia via Air Asia Flight Z2940 by presenting themselves as a group of friends going on tour.

Immigration officers, however, noticed inconsistencies in their statements and referred them to Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) for further inspection.

It was later revealed through verification with airline personnel that the 16 passengers only booked their tickets the day before, and did not have a return ticket.

They could neither present accommodation arrangements in their country of destination, nor elaborate on their travel itinerary.

TCEU eventually got the passengers admit that they did not know each other, and that they paid Php20,000 each to a certain "Ms. Weng" and "Ms. Riza", who introduced themselves as legitimate manpower agents and offered them assistance in seeking work abroad.

According to BI, one of the victims, a 29-year-old former security guard, claimed that he was promised work in Malaysia. He became suspicious of the recruiters because he knew the process of acquiring legitimate work documents, as his brother was also an OFW.

When he asked for a copy of his Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) clearance and his Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar Certificate, he explained that Ms. Riza assured him that said documents will be provided before departure. He only learned on that same day that he will depart as a tourist, and not as an OFW as promised.

Two of the female victims were former repatriated OFWs from war-torn Libya. They admitted that they are planning to transit Malaysia to go back to Libya amidst calls for repatriation as a result of the deteriorating security situation in that country. They stated that they paid Ms. Weng and Ms. Riza Php20,000 to assist their departure.

The rest of the victims admitted to have paid the same amount to Ms. Weng and Ms. Riza, claiming that they were convinced by the two that work was waiting for them abroad.

They were immediately endorsed to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for further investigation and for filing of appropriate charges against their recruiters.

BI Commissioner Siegfred Mison for his part, reminded aspiring OFWs not to be satisfied with flowery words from illegal recruiters.

“They must be vigilant at all times, and exert all efforts in ensuring that the agencies they deal with are legitimate manpower agencies,” Mison said.

He also urged OFWs to coordinate with the POEA to verify if the manpower agency they are dealing with is legitimate.

“They will most likely be victims of human trafficking as soon as they set foot abroad, where they will have no one to turn to. We implement the law to protect the interest of our kababayans and their families,” he added. (PNA)



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