FOLLOWING reports that human trafficking syndicates here and abroad are planning to take advantage of the holidays to spirit their victims in and out of the country, Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other airports have been placed on heightened alert before the Halloween break.
BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said that in compliance with the instructions of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, he has directed all of the bureau’s airport terminal heads and supervisors to immediately implement strict immigration assessment as part of ‘Oplan Undas’ which will last until November 4, 2018.
“We have received intelligence reports that human traffickers and illegal recruiters will be sending many of their victims to travel abroad this week. They are mistaken if they think we will lower our guard during the peak season,” Medina said.
Members of the bureau’s newly-reshuffled Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) were instructed to conduct secondary inspection on departing Filipinos with doubtful purpose of travel.
‘Most of the time, trafficking victims are instructed by their recruiters to disguise themselves as tourists to attempt to leave the country. I have ordered our immigration officers to conduct strict departure formalities to protect our fellow Filipinos from being victimized by unscrupulous individuals who only wish to earn at the expense of others,” he added.
At the same time, Medina said he has directed immigration officers manning the airports to be doubly strict in clearing foreigners to make sure that their visas and other travel documents are valid and genuine.
He observed that there are a number of foreigners that have been caught this month presenting bogus passports and visas, adding that foreign syndicates might take advantage of the influx of tourists and attempt to sneak in illegal aliens pretending to be legitimate tourists.
“Illegal aliens with fake documents will definitely be caught. Our immigration officers are highly-trained to detect fraud, plus we have state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the protection of our borders,” Medina stressed.