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‘Underage’ worker posing as 24-year-old intercepted by BI-NAIA

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A female prospective overseas Filipino worker (OFW) was intercepted by Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the NAIA on Tuesday morning for misrepresenting herself as a 24-year old when she is much younger, even possibly a minor.

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said that immigration officers stationed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 1 intercepted the female OFW before she was able to board a Philippine Airlines flight to Jeddah to work as a household service worker (HSW). The victim was referred to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance and prosecution against her recruiters.

The OFW, who was victimized by an unscrupulous agency, presented documents stating that she is 24 years old but it was apparent in her demeanor that something was off and she was obviously younger than her presented age,” the BI chief said.

The victim was able to present a passport with a valid working visa stating that she was 24 years old. However, officers were able to discover that the birth certificate she carried was altered. Current policies require HSWs working in the Middle East to be at least 24 years old.

“The immigration officer who processed her passport doubted the authenticity of the supporting document, and submitted it for tertiary check to our forensic documents laboratory. They we were able to confirm that the year of birth and other details in the birth certificate was altered,” Tansingco said.

Despite this, the victim was able to secure identification documents and a visa.

Tansingco said that the victim, who hails from Sultan Kudarat, was unable to read or write, which may have been abused by her recruiters to make her agree to the scheme.

“We suspect that she may be less than 20 years old, and possibly even be a minor. This is a clear case of trafficking that abuses the vulnerabilities of our young ones,” he added.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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