BI intercepts 8 illegally recruited Filipinos
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL
The Manila Times
OPERATIVES of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) intercepted eight Malaysia-bound workers disguised as tourists while attempting to leave the country via the Zamboanga International Seaport (ZIS). Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said that while illegal workers usually use the airports en route to their intended destinations abroad, the ZIS case exposes the continued threat of human trafficking through seaports. “The strengthened anti-trafficking measures, implemented not only in airports but also in seaports, show the government’s commitment to combat this illicit activity comprehensively,” he added. The passengers, whose identities were withheld for their protection, were attempting to board MV Antonia bound for Sandakan, Sabah, on November 13. The victims initially presented themselves as individual tourists . However, upon secondary inspection, the passengers confessed to planning employment in a shipyard and an engineering firm in Kuala Lumpur. Tansingco reiterated his call to Filipinos aspiring to work overseas to always consult first with authorized agencies to verify the legitimacy of job offers. “Aspiring workers abroad must obtain the necessary clearances and approvals from relevant government agencies,” he said. “This includes verification of your employment contract, validation of your job offers and securing overseas employment certificates from the Department of Migrant Workers,” added Tansingco. All eight passengers were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation. Tansingco also said that illegal recruiters are now resorting to providing their victims ridiculous stories to present to immigration. He cited the case of a female victim who presented return credentials in someone else’s name while attempting to board a PAL flight to Singapore at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1. This was required by her recruiter to claim that she is working for a merchandise company in the Philippines, and even provided her with fake bank documents with clear grammatical errors. It was later found out that she was recruited to work as an entertainer in a bar in Singapore. Tansingco also shared that the following day, another female victim claimed to be a winner of a raffle conducted by a travel agency. The BI’s Immigration Protection and Border Enforcement Section (I-Probes) reported that the victim attempted to leave for Singapore via an Eva Air flight at the Clark International Airport (CIA). The victim reportedly claimed that she had won a raffle contest sponsored by a Dubai-based travel agency. She said that having won the raffle she was awarded with a holiday package, including a plane ticket and a three-day hotel accommodation in the said city-state. However, when asked about basic details of the contest, she could not say how she won or how she was declared a winner.