by Kristine Joy Patag – Philstar.com, 2 Nov 2021
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration has intercepted the departure of 495 suspected victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment from January to September of the year.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that for the first three quarters of 2021, officers have deferred the departure of 8,413 passengers, mostly for being improperly documented.
Immigration officers intercepted the departure 325 who were found to be potential victims of trafficking and were endorsed to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for investigation and filing of complaints against their recruiters.
There were also 170 Filipinos whose work documents showed discrepancies who were turned over to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
Of the total passengers stopped from departing, 6,909 or 90% attempted to leave through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport while the rest were flights intercepted from Clark, Pampanga and Mactan, Cebu.
Morente stressed that even amid the pandemic, there is no letup in the bureau’s drive against human trafficking.
The Philippines retained its Tier 1 ranking in the US State Department 2021 Trafficking in Persons report, which means that the Philippine government met the minimum standards in the elimination of trafficking despite the COVID-19 pandemic in the past year.
The same report noted however that the Philippines failed to “convict any officials for complicity in trafficking crimes” and “did not vigorously investigate labor trafficking crimes.”