The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it barred more than 38,000 travelers from leaving the country last year due to its unrelenting campaign against human trafficking in the different international ports. Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente disclosed that the 38,522 persons whose departures were deferred last year is 16-percent more than the nearly 33,000 travelers who were stopped from leaving in 2018.

“The men and women manning our ports deserve to be commended for their vigilance. So long as there are people who are victimized by trafficking syndicates we will not relax our guard,” Morente said. “We are duty-bound to remove them from harm’s way.” The Bureau of Immigration chief specifically lauded personnel assigned to the bureau’s port operations division (POD) and travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) for their accomplishments. BI-POD chief Grifton Medina said most of the passengers were not allowed to board their flights for failure to comply with requirements for overseas bound passengers which are spelled out in guidelines promulgated by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT). Medina said the said guidelines have been implemented in the past few years in order to combat human trafficking and illegal migration in the country’s ports of exit. According to BI-TCEU chief Ma. Timotea Barizo, about 85 percent or nearly 33,000 of the said passengers were stopped at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) while the rest were stopped in the airports of Mactan, Clark, Iloilo, Kalibo, and Davao. Barizo said passengers were often intercepted for misrepresentation or for submitting fraudulent supporting and travel documents. She added that more than 400 passengers were turned over to the IACAT for investigation and filing of charges against their handlers and recruiters. It will be recalled that due to the government’s successful drive against trafficking, 

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PASAY, Philippines— Bureau of Immigration Chief Grifton Medina."Our immigration officers found numerous inconsistencies in their statements. They all eventually admitted having United Arab Emirates (UAE) visas in their possession and that their final destination is Dubai where they were recruited to work as household service workers.". Four undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) hired to work as household service workers (HSW) in Dubai were stopped at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for attempting to leave for Bangkok in the guise of being tourists, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

“We are in the midst of an intensified campaign against human trafficking, thus we are warning aspiring OFWs to comply with the rules and requirements for overseas workers,” said Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente in a statement. “We are likewise warning recruiters and other cohorts not to attempt to assist or vouch for illegal workers, as you will face human trafficking cases which could lead to life imprisonment,” he added. The Bureau of Immigration chief issued the statement after immigration officers intercepted four women at the NAIA Terminal 3 who pretended they were going to Thailand as vacationing tourists. Bureau of Immigration port operations division chief Grifton Medina reported that the women were about to board a flight to Bangkok last Oct. 9 when they were intercepted by members of the bureau’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU). “They pretended that they all knew each other as they were co-workers and friends,” said Medina. He added that a woman who allegedly recruited the workers and was supposed to vouch for them and accompany them in their trip was also barred from leaving. They were all turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for investigation and filing of appropriate charges, Medina said. Bureau of Immigration TCEU chief Timotea Barizo said the women initially claimed to be employed at the travel agency owned by their recruiter, who also arranged their trip to Bangkok. “During immigration inspection, the recruiter would act as the spokesperson for the entire group. She kept on answering for everyone, and has everyone’s documentation. This caused our officers to further doubt their story, hence they verified and eventually discovered the deceit,” said Barizo. “We are noticing here a pattern where trafficking victims are being made to appear as employees of their recruiters. But such scheme will not work anymore, luma na yan, we knew of this trick a long time ago,” Barizo said. The names of the passengers were not divulged to a prohibition in the anti-trafficking law.

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Seven suspected victims of human traffickings were rescued by immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) after they were intercepted for possessing spurious travel documents. “These fraud syndicates continue to ignore our warnings. There will be no letup in our campaign against human trafficking and their victims will not be allowed to leave if they are caught,” said Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente. Morente issued the statement after the seven passengers were stopped from leaving the country last week in three separate instances at Terminals 3 and 1 of the NAIA.

The latest interception involved five passengers who pretended to be tourists in attempting to leave for Malaysia last Oct. 5 at NAIA 3. “They admitted paying their recruiters fees ranging from P125,000 to P175,000 each in exchange for processing their jobs and travel papers to Australia, which was their final destination,” said Bureau of Immigration Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina. The passengers were reportedly accompanied by a woman who was also stopped due to a pending court cases of estafa and illegal recruitment. ‘They also presented fraudulently manufactured employee IDs which were given to them by their handlers to make it appear that they are gainfully employed here and are thus legitimate tourists,” Medina added. Earlier, the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) reported that a Malaysia-bound woman was intercepted also at NAIA 3 last Sept. 24 for having a spurious United Kingdom visa and tampered pages on her passport. “We also discovered that she was already previously barred from leaving the country on suspicion of being a tourist worker,” Bureau of Immigration-TCEU chief Timotea Barizo said. On Oct. 2, TCEU members also stopped from leaving an underage overseas Filipino worker who misrepresented her age by falsifying her date of birth. All seven passengers were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.

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