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Human traffickers back in business – Despite COVID

BUREAU of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) recently stopped two Filipinas from leaving the country, even as the bureau warned that human traffickers are back in business despite the pandemic.

The BI warned Filipinos wanting to work abroad not to fall prey to the nefarious activities of these syndicates.

Meanwhile, ports operation division chief Grifton Medina said immigration officers at the airports have been directed to double their vigilance and prevent the departure of passengers who, based on their assessment, could be victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.

Medina said the order came after two female passengers bound for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were stopped from leaving the NAIA last week for presenting fraudulent travel documents.

Citing a report from BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) Head Ma. Timotea Barizo, Medina said the passengers were about to board a Philippine Airlines flight to Dubai on September 1 when they were intercepted at the immigration departure area of the NAIA 1 terminal.

The women, whose identities were withheld based on the law, admitted they were going abroad to work but the Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs) they presented turned out to be falsified.

“We were able to rescue these victims due to the vigilance of our primary inspectors who doubted the authenticity of their travel papers and referred them for secondary inspection instead of clearing them for departure,” Barizo said, adding that the incident was only the latest of several interceptions of suspected trafficking victims at the NAIA in the past several days.

“Like other victims we previously offloaded, these women also claimed their trip was arranged and their documents were processed by people they met over Facebook and that their papers were only given to them outside the airport before they checked in for their flight,” Barizo stated.

The women were later turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) NAIA Task Force for further investigation.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight