Multiple charges filed vs woman over trafficking of 5 victims in NAIA

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Manila, Philippines – The Interagency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) said victims have filed multiple charges against a woman accused of trafficking five female passengers who were recently intercepted by immigration authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

In a statement, IACAT said that on July 30, six female passengers (including the suspect De Leon) were travelling to Malaysia (4 bound for Malaysia, 2 for Singapore) as tourists were intercepted at NAIA-3.

Five of these females were identified as human trafficking victims, while
One of their companions identified as the suspect “De Leon” was arrested after being identified as their trafficker.

During the interview, all of them initially declared that they were travelling as tourists to Malaysia and were fully sponsored by their companion De Leon.

Five of them declared De Leon as their alleged employer as Sales Encoder Assistant while one declared that she is a relative and is merely assisting De Leon because the latter is pregnant. On the other hand, De Leon claimed to be an International Property Specialist of a known Property Developer in the Philippines.

However as the NAIA Task Force against trafficking of IACAT endorsed the passsengers to the the National Bureau of Investigation – International Airport Investigation Division (NBI-IAID) for investigation, the five passengers eventually revealed that they only met De Leon on that day in a fast food restaurant in NAIA Terminal III. A certain “Tiffany” allegedly offered them jobs in Malaysia, but they instead met De Leon on that day who provided them their fake employment documents, which they presented to the immigration officers. They voluntarily admitted verbally and in writing that they were instructed by De Leon to pose as tourists and to be firm in their declaration that they are her employees and one (1) as her relative.

IACAT, in its report said the victims manifested that they also voluntarily admitted verbally and in writing that they are all unemployed and are actually travelling to Malaysia for employment as Entertainer (1), Online Tutor (1), Caregiver (1), and Massage Therapists (2).

On August 2, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasay City ruled that the suspect “De Leon” hould be held trial for the following charges: Qualified Trafficking in Persons under Section 6 (c) of Republic Act No. 9208, as amended; Illegal Recruitment committed by a syndicate and in large scale under Republic Act No. 8042, as amended; and Estafa under Art. 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code.

The inquest Prosecutor recommended further investigation for For the charge of Falsification of Private Documents.

This is not the first time, however that De leon was involved in alleged trafficking incidents as IACAT said before July 30, she was not cleared for departure four times on different dates in April 2023 “due to discrepancies in her declarations with her documents and for failure to establish her personal capacity to support her travel as a tourist.”

She also declared different employers in those several attempts to depart. Inquiries made by the Bureau of Immigration to said employers also revealed taht one of them said she is not connected to them while the other did not respond.

After four attempts, De Leon was eventually allowed to depart to Singapore April 29, 2023, after complying the required Notarized Affidavit from a Local Sponsor who travelled with her at that time.

However, she actually returned a few days behind her alleged local sponsor and the other person who she claimed as the reason for her earlier attempt to depart to Singapore.

Aside from the above-mentioned incidents, De Leon and her mother were also mentioned in the written affidavits executed by a separate batch of deferred departure passengers last 15 July 2023 as the persons who handed their local employment documents and booked their accommodations.

The five passengers composed of Two male and three females were also bound for Malaysia. They were also turned over to the NAIATFAT – IACAT as possible victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment after presenting dubious local employment documents and valid Italian Lav Subordinato visa.

“We reiterate our warnings to the public to be wary of any and all forms of human trafficking. For those seeking employment abroad, the IACAT would like to remind the public to inquire with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to verify the offer to avoid becoming victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment,” IACAT said in a strongly-worded statement warning the public.

It likewise encouraged people to eport human trafficking thru the 1343 Actionline if within Metro Manila, (02) 1343 if outside Metro Manila, IACAT Facebook messenger, or email at secretariat@iacat.gov.ph.