Immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) barred from leaving the country seven Filipino women who were bound for the United Arab Emirates who were suspected to be human trafficking victims.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said the women were intercepted at the immigration departure area of the NAIA Terminal 1 as they were about to board a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight to Dubai.
Three of the women were allegedly hired to work as caregivers in the emirate while the four others were recruited to work as marketing and sales agents for an interior design company.
BI-TCEU Chief Ma. Timotea Barizo said the women attempted to leave by posing as first-time overseas Filipino workers but the papers they presented turned out to be fraudulent.
“Verification made on the overseas employment certificates (OECs) they presented revealed that some of them are not in the records of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administrtion (POEA), while the others appear to have been issued to other persons,” Barizo said.
She added a check of the passengers’ UAE visas showed that they were traveling to Dubai only as tourists and not as workers.
The women, whose names could not be divulged following anti-trafficking laws, were later turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.
Morente warned anew those who wanted to work abroad not to deal with unregistered agencies or recruiters as these shady characters were employed by human traffickers to recruit their victims.
“We were told that these intercepted victims all said that they met their handlers and recruiters via social media and that their travel papers were only handed to them a few days before their scheduled flights,” Morente noted.
“They did not know that these fraudulent papers could result in interception by our officers.”
The BI chief said that human traffickers had resumed their nefarious activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic that continued to haunt the lives of millions of Filipinos.
“These traffickers are taking advantage of our kababayan who need jobs during the pandemic,” said Morente.