11 human trafficking victims held

ELEVEN  suspected human trafficking victims who were said to have attempted to leave the country disguised as tourists were nabbed by Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said that since last week, the 11 victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking at the NAIA terminal 3 alone, after officers discovered that the passengers were illegally recruited to work abroad without proper documents.

“All of them were bound for countries other than what they presented, in an apparent effort to mislead immigration officers about their destination and purpose of travel,” Medina said, adding that the plan was for the victims to depart Manila as tourists and upon reaching the next port, they would be handed their working visas and instructed to proceed via a connecting flight to their final work destinations.

It was learned from Anthony Lopez, head of the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) at the NAIA 3, that last May 19, two passengers bound for Singapore were prevented from boarding their flights after it was found that they were actually bound for Doha, Qatar to work.  The duo was allegedly accompanied by two employees of a manpower agency known to be recruiting Filipinos for overseas jobs via the Internet.

‘We saw that the victims were really scared as their recruiters kept staring at them angrily, as if warning them to stop talking.  They tried concealing their work visas in Qatar but they eventually admitted their true intention,’ he said.

Lopez also said that two days later, BI-TCEU personnel intercepted another group of seven females disguised as tourists bound for Brunei for a vacation.