Immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport intercepted 30 undocumented overseas Filipino workers disguised as tourists bound for the Middle East.
Bureau of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the passengers, 18 women and 12 men, were about to board an Emirates Airlines flight to Dubai when they were intercepted by personnel from the Bureau’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit.
“All of them initially claimed they were going to visit a friend or relative in Dubai for a vacation and presented as proof their tourist visas and return tickets,” Medina said. “But nconsistencies in their statements prompted the immigration officers to doubt their purpose, so they were referred to the TCEU for secondary inspection.”
The passengers later admitted that they were going to work abroad and that their travel documents were only given to them that day by their handler who met them outside the airport.
All 30 were turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation to facilitate the filing of human trafficking charges against their recruiters.
BI-TCEU Chief Erwin Ortañez disclosed that except for one passenger who presented a fake visa, all of the passengers had valid tourist visas duly issued by the United Arab Emirates’ Interior Ministry. Ortañez said that 29 of the passengers said that they were hired to work as waiters and waitresses in various Dubai hotels while one of them said his final destination is Baghdad, Iraq where he was recruited as kitchen supervisor.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente hailed the apprehension of the 30 passengers as a big leap in the Bureau’s campaign against human trafficking.
“As a result of this incident, we were able to rescue our kababayans from the risk of being abused and exploited abroad, which they are prone to suffer due to their status as undocumented workers,” Morente said.
The BI chief exhorted the bureau’s frontline immigration officers to always remain vigilant amid repeated attempts by trafficking syndicates to spirit their victims out of the country.