Over 32,000 Filipino passengers offloaded in 2022; 472 were human trafficking, illegal recruitment victims says BI

Manila, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration said on Thursday that a total of 32,404 Filipino passengers were deferred departure, 472 of which were found to be victims of human trafficking or illegal recruitment.

Also included in the said number were 873 who misrepresented themselves, or presented fraudulent documents.

Meanwhile, at least 10 have been found to be either underaged or minors attempting to depart to work abroad.

The BI cited these figures as they issued their public apology on Thursday to Siargao-based vlogger Cham Tanteras, who ranted on a viral Tiktok video how she missed her flight in December after she was delayed by the lengthy and irrelevant questions from an immigration officer.

The rant made the news headlines in the Philippines and abroad and drew sympathy from fellow passengers who also shared about their horrible experiences being offloaded and  missing flights at the NAIA airport.

“A social media post recently made rounds on TikTok wherein a Filipina passenger recounted her unpleasant experience with immigration personnel in December 2022. She shared how she was asked numerous questions which she deemed irrelevant,” the BI said in a statement published on Facebook.

In its statement, BI said that an investigation was immediately conducted and the bureau sought a full incident report from the immigration officers involve.d

“The passenger was eventually allowed to travel after filling out the Border Control Questionnaire and  undergoing secondary inspection,” BI said of Tanteras.

“We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused the Filipina passenger and other  Filipino passengers.”

“The issue of human trafficking and illegal recruitment is real and  is happening every day. No less than the President has expressed his concern on the increasing number of  victims of trafficking,” the BI added in its statement.

The bureau also noted the recently, many young urban professionals whom they described as having good travel records, gainfully employed and graduates of good schools have been victimized by a cryptocurrency scam syndicate that transports to Myanmar and other Asian countries.

It added that victims have been promised a salary of $US1000 per month however they were forced to scam Westerners. And if they are unable to reach their quota, they were being subjected to corporal punishment.

“We have initiated coordination with popular social media platforms to discuss ways to combat this issue. The BI is but one of the numerous agencies of the government tasked to combat trafficking. The BI seeks consideration and understanding as the agency is constrained to implement strict measures to assess departing passengers,” BI said.

BI also said it has reminded its personnel to conduct their inspections professionally and in an efficient manner to prevent future similar incidents from occurring.

Responding to BI’s statement, Tanteras clarified that when she made the video rant, it was not her intention to scare off future passengers.

“But I hope it will serve as voice and the hopes for a change and efficient system in the immigration. Of course, it will affect us travelers,” she stressed.

“This is in behalf of the Filipinos who wants to travel abroad because all of us have the right to travel. Remember that,” she said.

Cham admitted she is still pissed off at the BI even though the bureau has already released an apology.

“It’s on the news already of what they said about my issue and they only said na it’s because of the human trafficking issues. That’s why they’ve been very, very strict and prudent in filtering passengers. which hindi pa rin nasasagot bakit kailangan ko ng year book,” she said.

“Ano ang konek ng year book ko sa human trafficking,” Cham, a vlogger asks.

In a later post, she further ranted about the figures released by BI on the number of offloaded passengers at the NAIA airport vis-a-vis the victims and fraudulent passengers.

“I’m not good in Math but only 1,355 out of 32,404 deferred are victims and fraudulent? That’s just 4%!,” Tanteras said.

“So what was the reason to offload the 96%? This 96% could have traveled but were not allowed! This 96% put their money into waste. So mas maraming na perwisyo kaysa “naprotektahan.”