The Bureau of Immigration (BI) reminded the public of the dangers of trusting people online and offline, noting that as the world goes digital, human trafficking patterns have shifted as well.
“The bureau always strives to bridge the information gap between aspiring OFWs and the government, but we urge the public to be vigilant. Human trafficking is real and it is happening now. I could not fathom how these scammers could deceive their fellow Filipinos like this. These illegal recruiters are a threat to our safety and security,” a disgusted BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said.
The renewed warning came after the BI chief received several reports of scammers and illegal recruiters who prey on Filipinos looking for work abroad.
Tansingco’s alert also came following the interception of three fake government employees and a Russia-bound passenger with fake documents, and the repatriation of three scam victims from Thailand.
BI officers at the Clark International Airport (CIA) intercepted on March 14 three Filipino women who attempted to leave the country allegedly using fake government company identification cards, leave forms, and travel authority. The passengers were intercepted while awaiting a Scoot Airlines flight to Singapore.
The passengers presented documents claiming that they work as administrative aide, agriculturist and bookkeeper in a Municipality in Luzon but when the secondary inspector initially noticed that their travel documents appeared dubious, basic questions pertinent to their jobs as government employees were asked and the passengers could not answer.
Tansingco said that the passengers later on confessed verbally and in writing that their purpose of travel is to seek employment in Singapore and Dubai as tourists.
“The passengers went to great lengths to evade immigration protocols. We understand the need to look for greener pastures abroad, but there is a legal and low-risk way to do it. We kindly remind the public that the set of requirements we impose is in place to ensure our safety even when we are overseas,” the BI chief added.
Tansingco then recounted the experience of two Filipinas who were repatriated from Thailand on Tuesday after experiencing physical abuse and sexual assault overseas.
He said that the victims left the country in the last quarter of 2022 and arrived in Thailand in hopes of gaining employment as Customer Service Representatives.
“One of them worked as a love scammer who sent nude photos of other women online. Eventually, they were transported to work in online casinos and online betting hubs where they received no proper food and compensation from their employers,” said Tansingco. It was discovered that the victims learned about the job on a Facebook post.
Meanwhile, officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 deferred the departure of a first-time passenger bound for Russia who was holding overseas employment documents as a ‘Balik Manggagawa’ last March 27.
“Upon seeing irregularities in the documents, the secondary inspector found out that the victim’s overseas employment certificate has no record with Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and that her contract was not verified by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Russia or by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW),” Tansingco said, adding that the victim was in contact with a certain Rose who she met on Facebook and to whom she paid a total of P215,000.
The passenger later admitted that she has no personal knowledge on the appropriate documents and processes that she has to undergo to depart as an OFW. She was turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation.