Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Norman Tansingco warned that the recruitment of Filipinos who are trafficked and recruited by syndicates to work for illegal online gaming operations abroad is continuing, based on interceptions made by BI personnel recently, Tansingco noted how interceptions by immigration officers of Filipinos who attempt to leave abroad after being hired to work overseas for illegal gambling establishments have been continuing recently.
“Many of these passengers, disguised as tourists, are usually bound for Thailand while others are destined for Cambodia or Myanmar. These recruitment scams show no sign of stopping. This explains why our officers at the airport are doubly strict in allowing the departure of Filipino tourists with doubtful travel purpose. We are duty-bound to protect our citizens from being victimized by these trafficking syndicates,” he said.
Just last March 8, a female passenger was stopped from boarding her flight to Singapore after she admitted to immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 that she was recruited for an offshore gaming company in Thailand by someone on Facebook who promised her a salary of US$1,000 a month.On March 9, BI officers at NAIA Terminal 3 also barred from leaving five Bangkok-bound passengers.
All five passengers initially claimed they were legitimate tourists and claimed to be friends traveling for a vacation abroad. However, immigration officers noted numerous inconsistencies in their statements, including basic details about their travel and relationship with each other.
That same day, a male passenger arrived at the NAIA Terminal 2 after he was repatriated from Myanmar where he had worked as a crypto scammer under unjust and inhumane conditions.
He recounted his ordeal such as his being forced to work for 16 hours a day, unable to eat properly and subjected to physical harm by his employers if he fails to meet his quota.
Another male passenger was repatriated last March 15 at the NAIA Terminal 2 from Cambodia. The victim shared that he claimed that he was a tourist bound for Bangkok upon his departure from Manila, but was enticed to transfer to Cambodia where he was offered a job in an online casino.
The victim recounted that he was compensated less than what was agreed on, and when he said that he will resign, his employers threatened him that they will burn his passport. He later escaped to seek assistance from the Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh.
“We hear these stories again and again, yet every day we still see victims being enticed to work abroad We remind aspiring OFWs not to seek employment through illegal means, but through the Department of Migrant Workers to prevent abuse and exploitation,” Tansingco said.