EIGHT Malaysia-bound workers posing as tourists were intercepted at the Zamboanga International Seaport (ZIS) by Bureau of Immigration (BI) agents.
BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said the passengers, whose identities are being withheld for their protection, were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation.
It was learned that they were attempting to board MV Antonia bound for Sandakan, Sabah, on November 13, during which they initially presented themselves as individual tourists with varying reasons for travel, including purchasing welding machinery abroad and visiting family and friends.
However, upon secondary inspection, the passengers confessed to planning employment in a shipyard and an engineering firm in Kuala Lumpur.
Tansingco then emphasized that the case exposes the continued threat of human trafficking through seaports.
“The strengthened anti-trafficking measures, implemented not only in airports but also in seaports, show the government’s commitment to combat this illicit activity comprehensively,” he said.
Tansingco further urged aspiring Overseas Filipino Workers to consult with authorized agencies to verify the legitimacy of job offers.
“Aspiring workers abroad must obtain the necessary clearances and approvals from relevant government agencies. This includes verification of your employment contract, validation of your job offer, and securing overseas employment certificates from the Department of Migrant Workers,” Tansingco added.