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BI intercepts seven Iraq-bound trafficking victims

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Seven suspected human trafficking victims bound for Iraq who tried to leave the country in the guise of being tourists were intercepted by Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1.

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said the passengers were intercepted at the NAIA 1 terminal last Jan. 16 before they could board a Scoot Airways flight to Singapore. All women, the passengers later admitted during questioning that their final destination is Erbil, Iraq where they were hired to work as janitresses with a month pay of US$1,000.

The government has imposed a long standing ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Iraq which has continued to be plagued by violence.

The victims reportedly bared that some 30 Filipinos were already recruited by the syndicate to work in Iraq for the same employer. Their names were not divulged as the law prohibits the public disclosure of human trafficking victims.

The BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) which interviewed the victims said they initially claimed that their clandestine trip to Iraq was arranged by a travel agency based in Manila and that upon arrival in Singapore, they were supposed to board their connecting flights to Dubai or Qatar en route to their final destination in Iraq.

Tansingco said the passengers were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation and filing of charges against their recruiters.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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