Alleged human trafficking incident at Naia raised in Senate
MANILA, Philippines — An alleged human trafficking incident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) has been raised in the Senate.
During Wednesday’s Senate plenary session, Senator Grace Poe narrated that the Philippine National Police (PNP) Aviation Security Group received an anonymous tip about a human trafficking activity.
“I think 2023 is Naia’s year. Unfortunately, not for any good reason. More than a month after the infamous New Year’s Day air traffic system glitch, andito na naman po tayo dahil sa isa na namang aberya sa (we’re here again for another turmoil in the) airport,” she said during her privilege speech.
The involved aircraft has a tail number N9527E and is set to depart last February 13, 10 p.m. bound for Dubai.
Six passengers were declared to board the aircraft, Poe said, citing the anonymous tip.
However, based on information from the Bureau of Immigration (BI), there were seven passengers in the General Declaration — a Malaysian, a Korean, a Chinese, one from Vanuatu, and three from Saint Kitts and Nevis.
The victims’ visas are a mix of tourist, employment, and special resident retiree’s visa.
By 10:20 p.m. of February 13, eight Asian looking nationals attempted to board the aircraft despite being excluded in the General Declaration.
The inspectors then noticed three unauthorized individuals entering the aircraft and the door closed.
The head of the PNP Aviation Security Group asked the immigration officers why the aircraft left without passing through the pre-flight inspection and why there were additional passengers not listed in the General Declaration.
An immigration officer told them that the additional passengers were processed and are “clear to travel” despite not being in the flight manifest.
Despite efforts to stop the flight’s departure, it still went off because its flight navigation clearance had been approved.
The BI is currently investigating the incident.
“Malinaw na may irregularity at paglabag sa existing policies at procedures ng airport agencies tulad ng MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority), immigration, PNP Aviation, at CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines),” Poe lamented.
(It is clear that there is an irregularity and violation of existing policies and procedures of airport agencies like MIAA, immigration, PNP Aviation, and CAAP.)
The aircraft is operated by Cloud Nine No. 1 Leasing Company Limited, a Hong Kong registered leasing company. Its assigned aircraft ground handler is a local firm, Globan Aviation Service Corporation or Globan.
Senator Risa Hontiveros noted that a certain Globan likewise attempted to smuggle Mohit and Twinkle Dargani, individuals involved in the Pharmally scandal, out of the country.
“For the record lang po para lang maitanong pa, maimbestiga pa po sa pagdinig, mukhang hindi lang Naia ang in the hot seat pa rin tulad ng sinabi ng good gentlewoman, baka ito ring entity na Globan na ito,” the opposition senator said.
(For the record so that it would be investigated in the hearing, it seems that Naia may not be the only one in the hot seat, Globan as well.)
Poe replied: “Unless there are two Globans then we assume it’s the same company and maybe we should check if that Globan is really in the business of smuggling people out of the country.”