Proliferation of fake overseas employment certificates alarms BI
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has expressed alarm over the proliferation of fake overseas employment certificates (OECs) being used by undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in going abroad.
“I am alarmed reading reports from our Port Operations Division (POD) about this modus. It appears that these syndicates are using every trick they can think of to spirit their victims out of the country. But they will not succeed,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement on Wednesday.
Morente said he instructed BI POD Chief Grifton Medina “to alert all personnel manning immigration departure counters on the proliferation of fake OECs used by undocumented OFWs victimized by human trafficking syndicates and illegal recruiters.”
Meanwhile, Medina said he had ordered personnel of the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) to deploy additional personnel, who will take charge of pre-screening the documents of departing OFWs.
“Those victims with questionable documents will be immediately subjected to secondary inspection. If their papers are found to be indeed spurious, they will not be allowed to depart and will be turned over to the IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking) for investigation and assistance,” Medina said.
“Authorities must get to the bottom of this problem to catch recruiters that use this scheme,” he added.
Intercepted OFWs with fake OECs
According to BI-TCEU Chief Erwin Ortañez, a total of 17 OFWs with fake OECs were apprehended at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) last week during the Lenten peak travel season.
Ortañez said that the victims carried fake Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) clearances and pre-departure orientation seminar certificates.
“They mistakenly thought we will lower our guard due to the large number of travelers during the Lenten break. But we were on full alert. Their scheme did not work,” he said.
However, Ortañez noted that while the intercepted passengers had fake OECs and POEA clearances, they had existing working visas and job contracts provided by their recruiters.
“Who knows what kind of jobs these victims will get when they reach their destination,” he said.
“We’ve heard stories of victims finding out that no job was waiting for them abroad, or that they will receive less than what is stated in their contract. They are clearly duping our fellow Filipinos,” he added.
The BI said that 10 of the 17 passengers, were bound for Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Thailand and were intercepted at the Naia Terminal 1 while the rest were stopped at the Naia Terminal 2. /muf
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