BI intercepts suspected human trafficking victims in Clark, Pampanga
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) reported on Tuesday that it intercepted three women, suspected to be human trafficking victims, bound for the United Arab Emirates at the Clark International Airport (CIA) in Pampanga.
In a report to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit said the passengers were intercepted last Friday as they attempted to board an Emirates flight to Dubai.
According to agents, the women first disguised themselves as tourists but later admitted they would work as domestic household workers in the UAE.
All three had valid UAE tourist visas and return tickets to make it appear they were only going to Dubai for vacation.
While being interviewed, however, the women confessed that they were recruited to work overseas and received instructions from their handler through Facebook. They also received copies of their visa and return tickets through the Internet.
According to the victims, they did not secure required overseas work permits from the government. They also did not pay any amount to their agent but were told that the expenses will be deducted from their salaries.
Morente explained that this is a form of “debt bondage.”
“Hindi ka pa nakakaalis may utang ka na (you haven’t left yet but you’re already in debt). In many cases, victims are charged by their recruiters’ exorbitant amounts, which they are unable to immediately pay off, further locking them to their employers despite horrible working conditions,” Morente said.
The victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for further investigation.
Morente then warned members of human trafficking syndicates that the heightened vigilance of the BI is not limited to Manila but in the other international ports as well.
He stressed that attempts by these syndicates to traffic their victims using other ports of exit would not work as the agency has enough personnel stationed who will stop them from leaving once they are intercepted.
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