BI partners with NGOs to thwart human trafficking

July 25, 2010 10:32 pm 

MANILA, July 25 — Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Marcelino Libanan on Sunday has vowed to engage the participation of other government agencies and the private sector in the campaign against human trafficking even as he maintained that the bureau has done its part in preventing victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking syndicates from leaving the country.

Libanan said that the BI's drive against trafficking has so far resulted in the offloading of more than 21,000 passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other airports since 2007.

He said the passengers were stopped from leaving because they were profiled to be suspected tourist workers, or undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) disguised as tourists.

“Because we prevented them from leaving, we were able to save these OFWs from becoming victims of human trafficking and from possible harm and exploitation abroad,” the BI chief said.

Libanan said immigration officers at the airports have been under strict instructions to offload suspected tourist workers and meticulously screen and check the travel papers of every departing Filipino tourist.

He decried that many these undocumented OFWs disguised as tourists end up being lured into prostitution and forced labor abroad.

Libanan also said the BI had established an immigration academy that trains and equips future immigration officers on profiling victims of human trafficking and detecting fraudulent travel documents.

These immigration officers are also taught about the modus operandi of illegal recruiters and human traffickers so that their racket can be checked and stopped.

Libanan noted that immigration officers have oftentimes been subjected to sweeping allegations of corruption, thus the BI has instituted measures to deter irregularities and make their work more efficient and transparent.

He cited the black uniforms that immigration officers are now required to wear while on duty so they could easily be distinguished from other government personnel assigned at the airports.

Libanan added the BI has installed CCTV cameras at the airports; banned the use of cellular phones, pagers and other communication gadgets while on duty; introduced a customized security ink for immigration arrival and departure stamps; and that assignments of immigration officers are now raffled daily and rotated periodically.

“Off-duty duty immigration officers are also banned at the airports’ immigration areas; “snake” queuing of passengers was implemented to avoid collusion between graft syndicates and immigration officers and cooperation with the various foreign embassies was strengthened in verifying the visas and other travel documents of passengers,” he said. (PNA) LOR/FMB

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