13 Filipinos bound for HK tour barred from leaving NAIA

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Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3

At least 13 Filipino passengers who were going to Hong Kong for a tour were barred from boarding their flights after their boarding passes were determined to be fake.

Bureau of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina said the passengers—seven men and six women—were intercepted at the Cathay Pacific check-in counter of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 last week.

The passengers were immediately turned over to the BI after Cathay Pacific personnel found that the self-printed boarding passes they presented were fake. Their names were not in the flight manifest and they were not issued tickets by the airline.

“It’s seems the 13 passengers are victims of scammers who prey on the public by selling fake tickets at cheap prices to entice their victims,” Medina said.

The passengers only learned that they were scammed after the airline informed them that their boarding passes were not encoded in their system.

When interviewed by members of the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), the passengers pointed to one of their female companions as the one who enticed them to buy the plane tickets.

The woman, however, claimed that she also did not know that the boarding passes were bogus as these were only given to her by a certain “Jennifer”. She alleged that she met Jennifer thrice and she was only instructed to distribute the tickets to her companions.

Timotea Barizo, BI-TCEU chief, said that investigators also found out that some of the passengers’ hotel bookings were cancelled as well.

The victims were allegedly told to wear T-shirts bearing the name of a herbal product during their trip and were instructed to take off the shirts after they are cleared by Immigration, according to Barizo.

“It was done to make it seem like they were on an official company trip abroad. Why would they be instructed to misrepresent themselves if there was no ill intention?” she added.

Barizo said she suspected that the victims may have been promised jobs abroad, hence the fake tickets and the misrepresentation.

“There were too many inconsistencies in their statements and documents,” Barizo said. “We suspect they may have been victimized by illegal recruiters.”

All 13 passengers were eventually turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.