Bureau of Immigration boosts guard against human trafficking

FOLLOWING reports that the Philippines retained its Tier 1 ranking in the US government’s human trafficking index for 2019, the leadership of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) exhorted its officers assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other ports to keep up their vigilance.

In a statement, Commissioner Jaime Morente urged BI personnel in the different ports to remain vigilant as human trafficking syndicates continue to prey on the poor, including minors.      

For his part, BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the latest TIP report will surely inspire and motivate POD personnel manning the ports to sustain their efforts in fighting human trafficking.

According to Medina, there will be no letup in the bureau’s anti-trafficking campaign, even as he reported that more than 10,000 travelers were stopped from leaving the country from January to April this year, mostly for having incomplete travel papers and questionable purpose for going abroad.  

The Philippines, he said, leads the ranking in East Asia and the Pacific, sharing the Tier 1 status with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Other countries mentioned in the report who were given a Tier 1 rating are Australia, Canada, France, Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain.

It was learned that the Tier 1 status was given to only 33 countries all over the world. The report also acknowledged the BI’s accomplishment in deferring the departure of 24,753 passengers due to incomplete or missing travel documents or misrepresentation, referring for investigation 286 potential cases of suspected trafficking, identifying 286 potential victims of trafficking and arresting nine suspected traffickers.  

The BI stopped 199 foreign registered sex offenders from entering the country last year, the same report stated.

A Tier 1 rating means that the Philippine government fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and has continually demonstrated serious and sustained efforts to combat human trafficking.