BI on alert for illegally deployed OFWs to Iraq
MANILA, Philippines — Immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other ports in the country are on alert for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) being illegally deployed to Iraq despite the current deployment ban.
Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente ordered immigration personnel to rigidly screen Filipinos traveling to Dubai as it is being used as a transit point for OFWs being deployed to Iraq.
This came after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) alerted the BI on the recruitment of OFWs by syndicates using social media.
The recruiters claim that the deployment ban in Iraq has already been lifted.
“Immigration officers are directed to exercise extra vigilance in clearing the departure of Filipino travelers bound for Dubai, particularly those who are departing as tourists, and make sure that they are not going to other foreign destinations in order to work,” Morente said in his directive to BI Port Operations Division (POD) chief Grifton Medina.
The immigration bureau was also able to obtain a list of names of several OFWs who were allegedly recruited to work in Baghdad in Iraq as restaurant waiters.
Morente said none of the illegally recruited OFWs should be able to leave the country and that they should be turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
The illegally recruited OFWs pay the deployment cost of their recruiters through salary deduction, which Medina said is a form of human trafficking.
“These illegal recruiters will sweet-talk their victims, encouraging them to take the job offers while the costs will be deducted from their salaries,” Medina said.
“When they get to their worksites, many are enslaved, given meager salaries, and made to work more than they supposed to in order to pay off their alleged debt,” he added.
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