BI intercepts 3 underage OFWs bound for Saudi Arabia
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has intercepted three underage overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
In a statement on Thursday, BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said that the three Filipino women, who were about to board a flight to Saudi Arabia, were apprehended at the Naia Terminal 1 last Sunday.
The BI, however, did not name the three OFWs as it is prohibited under the anti-trafficking law to publicly disclose the identities of trafficking victims.
“They all presented passports with false birthdates to make it appear that they meet the age requirement for household service workers which is 23 years and above,” Medina said in his report to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente.
The three women were then turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation.
According to Glenn Ford Comia, BI Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) head supervisor at the Naia Terminal 1, the three women presented valid overseas employment certificates, job contracts, and working visas.
“However, their passports did not contain true and correct information on their dates of birth,” Comia added.
Comia noted that two of the underage OFWs claimed that they are 24 and 25 years old, when in fact both are 22 years old.
Meanwhile, the other one said she is 24 years old but is actually only 20.
Earlier, the BI ordered its officers stationed at Naia to be on alert amid reports that syndicates are again active in recruiting minors to work abroad.
This order from the BI came following the interception of a 21-year-old household worker, disguised as a 25-year-old, last March 13.
“These underaged women are prone to abuse and exploitation in foreign lands, and are being victimized by syndicates exploiting them,” Morente said.
“To those seeking greener pastures abroad, do not fall for this scheme,” he added. /je
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