Nearly 30,000 Filipino travelers offloaded
MANILA—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) stopped more than 28,000 passengers from going abroad as the Philippine government intensified its anti-human trafficking campaign.
BI Port Operations Divisions chief Grifton Medina said a total of 28,467 travelers were barred from leaving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and from the other international airports in Clark, Mactan, Davao, Kalibo, and Iloilo from January to October 2018.
He added that 23,239 of these passengers were stopped at the NAIA, adding that they were not allowed to board their flights because they were “non-compliant with requirements for overseas-bound passengers.”
Medina said these requirements were set under the Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International-Bound Passengers set by the Department of Justice that the BI has been implementing for the past few years as part of efforts to curb human trafficking and illegal migration in the country’s ports of exit.
“What we are trying to prevent the possible victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment,” Medina said. “We are considered the last line of defense inside our country to protect our people.”
Medina reported notable interceptions for the year. From June to October, 151 minors and underaged females bound for Saudi Arabia as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were intercepted for misrepresenting their age.
In August, four Filipinos were rescued from an alleged illegal recruiter in Clark after a German national attempted to facilitate their travel by reportedly instructing them to present themselves as volunteers, when their true intent was to work as caregivers in Germany.
Three months later, six female victims were prevented from leaving after they were discovered to have presented fraudulently-acquired documents to immigration officers. They were reportedly recruited as nightclub entertainers in Korea.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente commended BI port personnel for their vigilance even as he exhorted them not to stop in their efforts to combat human trafficking.
“There will be no letup in our campaign so long as there are syndicates who continue to unlawfully send abroad our countrymen who are prone to abuse and exploitation in foreign lands,” the Morente said.
He said that, through the efforts of BI and other partner agencies, the country retained its Tier 1 rating in the US State Department’s 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, following their intensified campaign against human trafficking.
The premier TIP rating was retained by the Philippines for the third straight year. It is one of 39 countries among 186 surveyed that continued to “demonstrate serious and sustained efforts to fight trafficking.” A Tier 1 rating is given only to those who fully comply with the minimum standards of the US Trafficking Victim Protection Act.
“You will be surprised at the stories we encounter at the airports,” said Morente. “Many fall prey to illegal recruiters who sweet-talk their victims to pretending that they are tourists to circumvent the law. Sasabihin nila, it’s a risk, lakasan lang ng loob. I appeal to our kababayans not to be fooled by these unscrupulous individuals.”
Morente reiterated that they will not relax their guard this holiday season as “illegal recruiters and human traffickers might take advantage of the influx of people in our airports”.
“The fight against human trafficking and illegal recruitment is a continuous joint effort of immigration and other government agencies,” he said.
“Modern-day slavery has no place in this world, and we will make sure that our kababayans are protected from this threat,” he added.