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Overseas Filipino Workers

BI to OFWs: Go legal as it bares trafficked victims drugged and forced to prostitution in Malaysia

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AN appeal was made by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to prospective Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) for them to take the legal route when seeking employment abroad, emphasizing the risks and dangers associated with illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco issued the warning, stating, “We cannot stress enough the importance of following the proper channels through the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). Taking shortcuts may lead to severe consequences, jeopardizing the safety and well-being of our fellow Filipinos.”

Tansingco cited the cases of two Filipinas who were recently repatriated after being trafficked in Malaysia. Names have been withheld in compliance with anti-trafficking laws. All victims were assisted by members of the Department of Justice Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) upon arrival.

A female victim, alias ‘Shiela’, 29 years old, arrived last June 21 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

‘Sheila’ claimed that she met her recruiter on Facebook. She was enticed to work as a waitress in Malaysia, with no fixed salary agreed upon. She shared that she did not pay anything prior to her departure from the Philippines, and was made to pose as a domestic employee of her traveling companion and courier.

When she reached Malaysia, she was forced to be a sex worker, allegedly to pay for the expenses incurred for her departure amounting to P150,000.

Another victim named ‘Michelle’, 21 years old, arrived at the NAIA Terminal 3 from Malaysia last June 26. She was promised work as a waitress with a salary of P40,000 a month.

BI records show that her departure was deferred late last year in her by the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit in her first attempt to travel to Malaysia.

She shared that she had to travel to Malaysia via boat, and did not pass through any formal ports of exit to evade immigration inspection.

‘Michelle’ recounted how she was made to take drugs and drink alcohol and was forced to perform sexual acts to customers. Their mobile phones were also confiscated so they could not seek help from Philippine authorities.

She was later rescued, and claims a number of victims remain in Malaysia.

“These predators will only entice you with promises of greener pastures,” said Tansingco. “Do not be the next victim,” he further warned.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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