THE Bureau of Immigration yesterday expressed concern over reports of the resurgence of a modus recruiting underaged Filipinas to work as household service workers (HSW) abroad.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente expressed his dismay on reports received that illegal syndicates are again actively recruiting young women and providing them with fraudulently-acquired documents to work abroad.
His statement came after Labor Undersecretary Jacinto Paras urged government agencies to strengthen their processes after a distressed worker dubbed as “Marie” was able to secure passports and other documents indicating that she was already 23 years old, despite being only 17. Marie was reportedly repatriated after working in Saudi Arabia for two years.
“This is a cause for concern for the Bureau,” said Morente.
“Intercepting them is quite a challenge, as these victims are given original passports and work clearances to make it seem that they are older than they really are,” the BI chief added.
Morente said in 2018, the BI intercepted a total of 181 minor and underage OFWs.
“Trends show that many of them were recruited from Mindanao to work in Middle Eastern countries,” he said.
Morente said last Friday, Immigration Officers from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 intercepted another Filipina bound for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia holding a valid passport, overseas employment certificate, and a valid working visa.
Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina detailed that the victim initially claimed that she is 23 years old, as indicated in her passport and other documents. However, the officer doubted her statement and referred her for secondary inspection.
“Upon secondary inspection, she admitted that she is younger than 23 years old,” said Medina. He said that the victim likewise admitted that a certain ‘Rudy’ instructed her not to give her real age.
“These syndicates provide everything -- documents and even a complete story -- to the victim for them to avoid being detected. When we asked her, she shared that she was instructed to say that she is just short, but already has a child,” he said.
The victim was immediately turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking [IACAT] for further investigation and assistance.
“As a member of the IACAT, has been very active in the fight against trafficking. “We are doing our part in ensuring that our kababayans will not be victimized by this syndicate. I urge Filipinos to report any such offers to the authorities. Do not fall for this scheme,” Morente said.