THE Bureau of Immigration urged aspiring overseas Filipino workers to avoid human traffickers and illegal recruiters who would promise them employment abroad.
This after the agency uncovered the recurrence a modus operandi of a syndicate that trains its victims and giving them accommodation at safe houses before their “deployment” abroad.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente yesterday issued the reminder after two women were recently barred from leaving the country for misrepresenting their age and narrating their experience with the syndicate that recruited them.
The women had alleged that they were kept by their handlers in a safehouse in Paco, Manila, for two months before they were booked for their flights.
Morente instructed the bureau’s Port Operations Division (POD) and Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) to conduct strict profiling and inspection of departing passengers to ensure that no underage OFWs are able to leave.
According to BI POD chief Grifton Medina, the two women, aged 19 and 20, were intercepted last Sept. 21 at the NAIA terminal 2 in their attempt to board a connecting flight from Dubai to Saudi Arabia.
Medina said the two women presented valid passports, visas, job contract, and overseas employment certificates but the birth dates in their documents were intentionally altered to make it appear that they meet the age requirement for Household Service Workers which is 23 years.
“Both women initially claimed that they were 26 years old, but eventually admitted their real age upon questioning,” Medina said.
BI-TCEU chief Timotea Barizo said the women recounted they lived for two months at a safehouse in Manila and were taught by their recruiters how to answer questions from immigration officers.
“The two victims admitted that their documents were given only prior to departure, and that they were told to open it only after check in. This forces them to go on and comply with the scheme despite the discrepancy since they are already there,” Barizo said.
Morente reiterated his reminder to OFWs not to fall prey to these schemes. “Transact only with legitimate agencies accredited by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.”