Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said the Bureau of Immigration is investigating the allegations of BI personnel involved in a “Baklas Passport” scheme engaged in the trafficking of young girls from Mindanao to Syria.
Guevarra said the BI’s Board of Discipline will submit to the Department of Justice the results of its fact-finding probe on the allegation of minors posing as young women of legal age to travel to Damascus, Syria.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women and Children, said in a hearing Tuesday that young women, some as young as 14, were using tampered passports to travel to Syria.
Some Immigration officers are suspected of being in cahoots with unscrupulous recruiters and allowed minors to leave the country.
During the hearing, whistleblower Alex Chiong testified that corrupt Immigration officers reportedly have a social media chat group where names of the women who would be trafficked out of the Philippines are listed.
“The alleged trafficking of women to Syria is already being investigated by the BI Board of Discipline. Their fact-finding reports will be submitted to the DOJ for review and initiation of formal administrative disciplinary proceedings, if found warranted,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
He admitted that the BI already forwarded an initial report to the DOJ last Monday.
“This is a continuing investigation. Some reports have actually been submitted to the DOJ for evaluation,” Guevarra disclosed.
However, the DOJ chief opted not to divulge the contents of the BI’s initial reports since these must first be evaluated.
“Allow us to evaluate the fact-finding report first. We’ll disclose the contents as soon as we find a substantial basis to proceed to a formal administrative investigation,” he stressed.