Immigration warns of new human trafficking scam targeting former OFWs

Published by rudy Date posted on April 12, 2021

by (Philstar.com), 12 Apr 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration warned the public on another human trafficking scheme victimizing former Overseas Filipino Workers who wish to work abroad again.

In this latest scam, BI said, “former OFWs whose visas and contracts have expired are given new tourist visas to allow them to depart to work illegally as tourists, using their old [overseas employment certificate] records.”

The bureau said Monday that its Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) intercepted the departure of one victim headed to Dubai from the Clark International Airport on April 5.

The worker presented an Overseas Employment Certificate as a Balik Manggagawa, but an immigration officer flagged inconsistencies in the documents.

The victim was referred to the bureau’s TCEU for further inspection, where it was found that the worker arrived in the Philippines in 2019 and has a Dubai work visa that has already been cancelled. The worker only had an active tourist visa.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said this new scheme to traffic workers “is an obvious circumvention of the law, and victims are promised that they can depart using their old OECs that are, in fact, invalid already.

BI chief Morente also hailed the efforts of the Clark immigration officers that intercepted the victim’s flight. “I know it is a challenge to intercept such cases as they are presenting complete documents and are in the guise of being legitimate OFWs. We commend the quick eye of our immigration officers, which allowed them to uncover this modus,” Morente also said.

The bureau said the victim was turned over to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Labor Assistance Center Pampanga for assistance.

Filipinos ‘sold’ to Syrian employers

The BI chief said that in cases of human trafficking, “victims end up working for a different employer, or worse, fly off to a third country like Iraq or Syria.”

The bureau said in March that it has rolled out a full-blown investigation into the outbound trafficking of 44 women to Syria, another racket linked to the pastillas bribery scheme hounding BI. In this modus, certain immigration officials allegedly receive P50,000 per Filipino trafficked out of the country.

A senate inquiry was also launched into the trafficking scheme. A STAR report said that in this modus, women with tourist visas traveled to Dubai. Once their 30-day tourist visa expires, they would be forced to go to Damascus in Syria and be sold to employers for as much as 10,000 USD.

In February, flew back home Filipino trafficking victims who were undocumented workers in Syria and fled their employers “due to harsh working conditions.” — Kristine Joy Patag

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