BI on alert against human trafficking
MANILA, Philippines — Bureau of Immigration officers stationed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) have been ordered to be on alert as reports surfaced that syndicates are again active in recruiting minors to work abroad.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente has instructed BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina to “conduct strict screening” of departing overseas Filipino workers to check if they are of legal age.
“Otherwise, in cases of doubt, our officers are instructed to refer these passengers to our Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) for secondary inspection,” Morente said in a statement.
Medina, for his part, said he already ordered BI personnel to conduct pre-screening of departing OFWs who are suspected of being underage. The age requirement for overseas household service workers is 23 years old.
BI’s order stemmed from the case of a 21-year-old Filipina household worker bound for Saudi Arabia who was intercepted last Wednesday at the Naia Terminal 1.
According to Glenn Ford Comia of BI TCEU, the passenger admitted that she is not yet 25 years old as indicated in her passport.
“She said that she only learned that her date of birth was changed when she received her travel documents from her recruiter on the day of her flight,” Comia said.
The minor has been turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for further investigation and assistance.
“This syndicate has stopped deploying underaged women, following last year’s numerous interceptions, as well as arrests by local authorities,” Morente said.
“However, with this recent interception, it seems that this scheme is making a comeback. I implore our kababayans who wish to work abroad, do not fall victim to these syndicates,” he added.
Last year, the BI reported more than a hundred underaged OFWs were intercepted at Naia. /ee
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