The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has foiled a total of 688 attempts of human trafficking and illegal recruitment cases in the country’s international ports in 2021.
Commissioner Jaime Morente, in a statement on Friday, said the bureau also deferred the departure of a total of 13,680 passengers, majority of whom had improper documentation.
“Over the year, we have observed the tactics of these illegal recruiters. The victims would usually be given fake documents or fed fake statements, either to work illegally abroad or to attempt to depart for countries with imposed deployment bans,” he added in the statement.
“In these trying times, Filipinos in dire financial need become easy prey to illegal recruiters who will assure them of lucrative jobs abroad,” the BI chief said.
BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) head, Ma. Timotea Barizo, enumerated common modus operandi employed by human trafficking syndicates such as falsification of Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs) and the subsequent tampering of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) forms.
“There are instances when departing passengers would present fake stamps supposedly to appear that their documents were cleared by the POEA,” she said.
Another scheme is the use of counterfeit or invalid working visas of either first-time OFWs or “Balik-Manggagawa” or vacationing OFWs.
“In some cases, we find OECs that are valid but do not match the visa of the passenger. This is also considered illegal, as it lists the OFW under a certain job, only to end with a different work, with a significantly lower salary than what was agreed upon,” Barizo added.
There are also instances that aspiring OFWs are given valid OECs and employment documents but are provided separate visas to work for a different employer in another country, she said.
These passengers would usually present employment documents with job sites in Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, or Albania, but with the United Arab Emirates as their actual final destination.
She added that the recruitment of underaged Filipinos to work as household service workers (HSWs) abroad is still rampant, involving mostly women aged 17 to 21.
These recruited workers usually assume the identity of other people and present fraudulently acquired passports in the airports to meet the minimum age requirement for HSWs of 23 years old