Bureau of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina yesterday discovered 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) discovered the modus 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,” said Medina as he warned OFWs against falling prey to the scheme stressing it will not escape the watchful eyes of the vigilant Immigration officers at the airport.
According to Medina, the passenger was about to board a 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 Terminal 3.
When the Immigration officer asked the OFW to hand her overseas employment certificate (OEC) for validation 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 OEC was presented to them for verification and clearance,” Medina said.
BI-TCEUchief Erwin Ortañez said the female officer 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 added 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 documents handed by her recruiter,” he said.