Immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport rescued nine suspected human trafficking victims who disguised themselves as tourists in an attempt to leave for South Korea.
BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were about to board an Air Asia flight to Taipei when they were intercepted by members of the bureau’s travel control and enforcement unit.
“They admitted that they were actually destined for Korea where they were illegally recruited to work as orange pickers in a plantation in Jeju Island,” Medina said.
He said the passengers initially claimed they were traveling as tourists to watch a Nanta acrobatic exhibition show in the said island.
“When asked, they could not explain and had no idea what the Nanta show is all about and their answers to questions by immigration officers were highly inconsistent,” Medina said.
“When pressed on the actual purpose of their trip, they confessed that they were hired to work with a promised monthly salary of P65,000.”
The victims, whose identities were not divulged due to a prohibition in the anti-trafficking law, were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance and further investigation.
NAIA Terminal 3 BI-TCEU Chief Glen Comia said that the apprehension occurred barely three days after immigration officers also intercepted eight trafficking victims who were illegally recruited to work in Cyprus.
“It appears that only one syndicate was behind the recruitment of these victims,” Comia said. “This is a well-entrenched trafficking syndicate that operates in both Europe and Asia.”
As in the case of the Cyprus-bound victims, the Korea-bound passengers also did not know each other and related that they only met at an office in Ermita where they were briefed by their recruiters before their trip.
The victims, who all hail from far-flung areas in the provinces, claimed they pay huge sums for processing their travel papers.