PH now a human trafficking destination
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is stepping up its screening of incoming foreigners after the discovery of an alleged syndicate trafficking Vietnamese workers to the Philippines.
The agency recently interviewed scores of overstaying Vietnamese who had said they were illegally recruited by an agency to work as house helpers in the Philippines.
BI spokesperson Tonette Mangrobang said it was the first time they had heard of the Philippines as a destination for human trafficking victims.
“We interviewed the Vietnamese nationals. We were surprised that we are not just a source of trafficking victims, but we are also becoming a destination,” she said in a phone interview.
The BI made the discovery after a batch of 69 Vietnamese turned themselves in to the agency, wanting to legalize their immigration status and be declared as indigents.
The overstaying foreigners admitted to BI intelligence personnel that they all came to the Philippines to work as house helpers, vendors, porters and carpenters in the provinces, earning P5,000 a month.
Enticed to work in the Philippines, they reportedly arrived three years ago and did not secure an extension of their visas.
According to Mangrobang, the Vietnamese worked in provinces such as Cagayan, Pangasinan, Bataan, Zambales, Batangas, and Leyte.
“They did not travel in groups but in one, two or three persons per flight,” she said.
The BI spokesperson added that it was unusual for foreigners to be employed as blue collar or domestic workers.
“For a foreigner, this is the first time that we heard that they are employed in these jobs, usually we encounter them as owners, businessmen, investors. Not as laborers,” Mangrobang said.
Mangrobang said the 69 Vietnamese nationals were allowed to leave the country last Sunday after being declared as indigents.
But they would be placed on the BI’s blacklist and would not be able to return to the country until they have paid their outstanding immigration arrears for overstaying in the country.
“The Vietnamese embassy sought our help in having these people declared as indigent. They are really scared that the BI will crackdown on illegal aliens, that’s why they came forward,” Mangrobang said.