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Monday, May 20, 2024

Immigration, travel agencies to sign pact vs. trafficking

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The Bureau of Immigration (BI) will sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with travel agencies to strengthen the fight against trafficking.

The collaborative effort, according to BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco, seeks to strengthen the commitment of the private sector to thwarting trafficking activities.

A similar agreement is likewise being eyed with both airline and shipping companies.

“This is inspired by the US model, where airline employees play a crucial role in reporting potential cases of trafficking. We recognize the immense value of partnerships between law enforcement agencies and the private sector. As seen in incidents in the US, collaborations among agencies are instrumental in identifying and preventing trafficking incidents,” Tansingco said.

Meanwhile, a 43-year-old female was intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 in an attempt to leave the country with fake travel documents.

The victim, whose name was withheld following anti-trafficking laws, was intercepted while attempting to board a Philippine Airlines flight bound for Singapore.

The BI-Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) report said that upon primary inspection, the immigration officers doubted the authenticity of her travel authority and referred her for secondary inspection.

Upon closer scrutiny, it was confirmed that the travel authority—a document required of all government employees stating that their agency has approved their travel abroad—was indeed fake.

The agreement will focus on three initiatives, namely reporting cases of trafficking to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), preventing the proliferation of fake documents, and ensuring proper information dissemination on immigration requirements.

The forthcoming MOA emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to combating human trafficking.

Tansingco believes that the active involvement of the private sector is pivotal in achieving a comprehensive and sustainable impact.

“Combating human trafficking requires a collective effort from all sectors. This is a call for unity and collaboration among public and private stakeholders to protect the vulnerable and eradicate human trafficking,” said Tansignco.

“This MOA represents a significant stride towards achieving these shared goals,” he added.

According to the report, “the victim was not sure which municipality she worked in”, which further raised doubts about the circumstances of her travel.

The victim later revealed that she had been recruited through a friend and had been communicating with her recruiter via text messaging.

It was learned that she paid P15,000 to her recruiter, which was sent through an electronic payment app. She was required to delete her conversations with her recruiter upon transferring the amount.

The woman claimed she received her travel documents just moments before her departure at the airport. She later admitted that her true destination was Dubai, where she intended to seek employment or await her visa to Lebanon.

“This incident shows that these traffickers will go to great lengths to elude strict immigration inspection,” BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said.

“Despite this, we remain committed to upholding the law and ensuring the safety of departing overseas workers,” he added.

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