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NAIA anti-trafficking offices on lockdown, COVID-19 hits 4 employees

/ 08:27 AM July 09, 2020
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The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines — The anti-trafficking offices at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were placed under a two-week lockdown after four employees tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Offices of the NAIA Task Force Against Trafficking (NAIATFAT) and Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) at NAIA Terminals 1, 2, and 3 were placed under strict lockdown from July 8 to July 22, 2020, according to Office Order No. 0524 signed by IACAT undersecretary-in-charge Emmeline Aglipay-Villar on Tuesday.

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The four employees of NAIATFAT tested positive for COVID-19 in a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test conducted by the Philippine General Hospital on July 2, according to the order.

Contact tracing will be promptly undertaken.

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“The said personnel also had regular interactions and dealings with the general public in the course of the performance of their work (ex. assisting in repatriation efforts in the airport, conduct of regular surveillance activities, etc.) at the airport,” read the order.

The said offices will undergo disinfection during the 14-day lockdown.

“During the temporary closure, all personnel and the general public are hereby prohibited from entering the said premises in order to prevent the further spread of the disease,” the document added.

All NAIATFAT personnel, including 18 employees who were subjected to RT-PCR tests in PGH on July 2 were likewise ordered to undergo strict self-quarantine for 14 days.

The order stated that during the lockdown, all work assignments of concerned employees, “as far as practicable,” should be done from homes.

It added that a return-to-work order and schedule will be submitted for recommendation by the head of NAIATFAT upon the end of the lockdown.

Department of Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete confirmed the lockdown, but said that while IACAT offices at the airport are closed, existing protocols to detect trafficking incidents remain in place.

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“Under these protocols, passengers suspected of being trafficked will still be referred to strict secondary inspection by the BI (Bureau of Immigration). The IACAT Office meanwhile remains open to receive reports of trafficking situations thru their hotlines and even on social media and to act on them accordingly,” he said in a text message to INQUIRER.net.

He added that other IACAT units remain operational.

“This means our NBI Anti-Human Trafficking Division and IACAT Operations Center that are both part of the IACAT repatriation team which handles Trafficking in Persons cases at the NAIA and repatriation of OFWs are all operational,” said the official.

Aside from BI, the IACAT also works with the National Bureau of Investigation-International Airport Investigation Division that conducts surveillance and immediate investigation of possible trafficking cases within the airport, said Perete.

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TAGS: Coronavirus, coronavirus disease, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, NAIA
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