The Bureau of Immigration on Tuesday said that human traffickers are back in business and are trying to take advantage of the pandemic in their illegal activities after immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport stopped from leaving the country two Filipinas suspected of being trafficking victims.
“We are warning our kababayans not to fall prey to the nefarious activities of these syndicates who do not feel any remorse in preying on their poor countrymen amidst the continuing COVID-19 pandemic,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.
Morente said he had instructed immigration officers at the airport to double their vigilance and prevent the departure of passengers who, based on their assessment, could be victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.
The BI Chief issued the statement after two female passengers bound for the United Arab Emirates were stopped from leaving the NAIA last week for presenting fraudulent travel documents.
According to BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit head Ma. Timotea Barizo, the passengers were about to board a Philippine Airlines flight to Dubai on Sept. 1 when they were intercepted at the immigration departure area of the NAIA 1 terminal.
The women reportedly admitted they were going abroad to work but the Overseas Employment Certificates they presented turned out to be falsified.
“We were able to rescue these victims due to the vigilance of our primary inspectors who doubted the authenticity of their travel papers and referred them for secondary inspection instead of clearing them for departure,” Barizo said.
She said the incident was the latest of several interceptions of suspected trafficking victims at the NAIA in the past several days.
“Like other victims we previously offloaded, these women also claimed that their trip was arranged and their documents were processed by people they met over Facebook and that their papers were only given to them outside the airport before they checked in for their flight,” Barizo stated.
The women were later turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking-NAIA Task Force for further investigation.