The Bureau of Immigration (BI) since September 2020 foiled over 130 attempts of human trafficking in some of the country’s major international airports.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente thus warned the public against common modi operandi, including using counterfeit documents, used by scrupulous bureau personnel to perpetrate human trafficking.
The BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), primarily in charge of intercepting illegal recruitment and trafficking victims, submitted an extensive report to Morente on common schemes employed by traffickers and illegal recruiters.
“These modern-day trafficking attempts are not the ones that you see on TV forcefully trafficking people across borders,” said Morente. “Traffickers now use modern methods —technology, falsification, and deceit. They sweet talk their victims and entice them to agree to such schemes, hence the need to send out a warning for people not to fall prey to these illegals,” he added.
A common modus is the falsification of overseas employment certificate (OEC), or tampering with Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) documents. Legitimate overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are required to present an OEC, records of which are linked in BI’s shared database with the POEA. However, in instances when records are not found in the BI’s system, passengers are referred to the POEA’s Labor Assistance Center at the airport for manual verification.
“Here we see instances where fake labor employees would make annotations on the certifications supposedly given by the POEA,” said Morente.
The TCEU also reported visa discrepancies in some documents of OFWs bound for Saudi Arabia. “In some of our interceptions, the actual job position of these OFWs is different from the one declared in their OECs. Often, they are given permits to work for a higher position, but end up working in households and paid salaries lower than industry standards,” said Morente.
Another scheme victimizes former OFWs by using their old OEC, but are given a separate tourist visa to work for a different employer, and are sometimes even sent to a third country. Last April 5, the BI reported the interception of a male victim under such scheme at the Clark International Airport.
The BI is also on the look-out for Iraq-bound tourists, wherein former OFWs in Iraq pose as tourists bound for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Upon inspection, BI officers are able to determine that their true destination is Iraq, where a total deployment ban for all OFWs is still in place.
Aside from this, fake marriages to justify departure is pretty common, said the BI. On Tuesday, a female passenger attempted to depart for the UAE to work as a babysitter on a visit visa, by pretending to visit her alleged husband. However, upon inspection, said husband has already sponsored a different wife. The victim later admitted that she does not know her supposed husband. SOVEREIGNPH