by Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com), 22 Oct 2019
MANILA, Philippines — Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente warned Philippine airport personnel against “passengers disguised as tourists who were illegally recruited to work overseas.”
A total of 17 women suspected to be victims of human trafficking were intercepted at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport between Wednesday and Thursday last week, the agency said in a release Tuesday. They were illegally hired to work as domestic workers in the Middle East, according to the Immigration.
The women were turned over to the MCIA Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance and investigation.
Immigration Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were stopped before they could board their flights to Hong Kong and Macau en route to their final destinations in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
“It appears that these victims were recruited by a syndicate which separately booked them on several flights in order to mislead our immigration officers on the purpose of their trip,” Medina said in a statement.
“And that is to work abroad without documentation.”
He also said trafficking syndicates are attempting to shift their operations to other exit ports in response to Immigration efforts.
BI-MCIA Travel Control and Enforcement unit head Ma. Asuncion Palma-Gil said 13 of the women were hired to work in Dubai and the other four in Qatar. They were offloaded from five different flights.
“They all admitted having UAE and Qatari visas in their possession and that they were recruited by individuals they only met via Facebook or through people they know currently working in Dubai and Doha,” Palma-Gil said.
She also said the passengers did not know their travel itinerary and would depend on instructions from their alleged handlers upon arrival in Hong Kong and Macau.
“This is a clear case of human trafficking wherein victims who are jobless and have no visible means of support are sent abroad and put in harm’s way to satisfy the cravings for the profit of unscrupulous recruiters.”
An estimated 6,300 left the Philippines daily to find work abroad in 2018, according to Migrante International, which monitors overseas Filipino workers. The figure is more than double the 2009 estimate of 2,500 Filipinos exiting the country for work abroad.