Bureau of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina yesterday announced having uncovered a new human trafficking scheme after a female OFW bound for the United Arab Emirates was intercepted for presenting a fake clearance from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
He said Immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have stumbled upon the said racket by human traffickers and illegal recruiters facilitating the departure of undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
‘It appears that the syndicates are now faking the stamp and signatures of POEA personnel at the airport in order to dupe immigration officers into believing that the employment papers of their victims are genuine,’Medina said, even as he warned OFWs against falling prey to the said scheme, saying ‘it will not escape the watchful eyes of our vigilant immigration officers at the airport.’
According to Medina, the concerned passenger was about to board her Cathay Pacific flight for Dubai last Sunday when she was intercepted by members of the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) at the NAIA 3 terminal.
When the immigration officer asked her to have her overseas employment certificate (OEC) validated and cleared at the POEA counter, she went to her handler, who was outside the immigration area, who stamped the OEC and signed it.
‘The trick, however, did not work as the doubting BI officers conferred with POEA personnel to check if the said OEC was presented to them for verification and clearance,’ Medina said.
BI-TCEU Chief Erwin Ortañez said the lady manning the POEA counter was surprised upon seeing the stamp on the OEC and denied that she cleared and signed the document.
‘She even insisted that she had not cleared any OEC yet since she reported for duty minutes earlier,” said Ortanez.
He also said that when questioned, the passenger eventually confessed that she received from her handler the OEC as well as her job contract and working visa at the airport a few hours before her scheduled flight.
‘She said she was instructed to check in with the airline as a traveling tourist but afterwards she would line up at the immigration lane for OFWs and present the said documents handed by her recruiter,” he added.-#