MANILA International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Cesar Chiong said that an investigation into the reported human trafficking of Filipinos to Myanmar had been underway even before the Bureau of Immigration (BI) requested for it.
According to Chiong, his directive for a thorough probe into the issue came as soon as he learned that based on reports, the victims used fake airport access passes, pretending to be employees of various airport concessionaires, in order to gain entry into the airport all the way to the boarding gates.
Chiong vowed swift and definitive action against anyone who will be found involved in the said modus operandi which, he stressed, will never be consented to by the MIAA.
Meanwhile, BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said he has ordered the BI Port Operations Division (POD) to coordinate with airport authorities to request a thorough investigation of the issue after airport security and police intercepted three victims bound for Myanmar earlier this month.
On closer inspection by airport security, it was found that the passes of the victims were fake while their passports and boarding passes contained counterfeit immigration stamps.
Tansingco said he raised the urgency of the concern after receiving a report that last November 16, another female victim was intercepted by aviation security personnel. The victim, bound for Kuala Lumpur, presented a fake access pass and attempted to enter the employees’ entrance. Her passport and boarding pass also contained fake stamps, which she said, were only given to her outside airport premises.
Previous victims might have used the employees’ entrance to evade strict departure assessment, to depart the country to illegally work in countries such as Myanmar, he said.
“We are investigating several victims of a trafficking syndicate that entices our kababayans to work abroad as call center agents, only to be transported to a third country to work as online scammers. We are trying to see if these two cases are linked. This is already a big security issue, and we see the need to refer the matter for a thorough investigation, together with local law enforcement agencies and the MIAA,” the BI chief added.
“This keeps on happening, and something must be done to stop this. We are implementing strict departure formalities, and must ensure that all departing passengers are inspected and assessed by our officers,” he said.
In 2014, a similar incident occurred when BI officers intercepted 4 trafficking victims who attempted to enter using the employees’ entrance.