7 suspected trafficking victims intercepted at NAIA – BI

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – Operatives of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have intercepted seven women who were suspected of being victims of a human trafficking syndicate.

In a statement, BI port operations divisions chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were stopped last Thursday, January 30 at the departure area of the NAIA Terminal 3 as they were about to board their flight to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Medina said the women were barred from leaving the country after immigration officers found that the travel documents they presented were fake.

They were also caught in possession of counterfeit clearances from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) as well as validation forms purportedly showing that their papers were checked and cleared by Labor Assistance Center personnel at the airport.

“They admitted during an interview that the bogus documents were given to them by their handlers and they were recruited via Facebook to work as domestic helpers in the UAE,” Ma. Timotea Barizo, BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) chief, said.

The women were eventually turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation.

The bureau said the interception of the group was amid the implementation of stricter screening procedures at the airport as part of the Philippine government’s efforts to combat the spread of novel coronavirus in the country.

“This should send a signal to these syndicates that there is no letup in our anti-trafficking campaign despite the 2019 nCoV ARD outbreak. Our departure areas remain off-limits to human traffickers and their victims,” Medina said.

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