12 suspected human trafficking victims rescued at Zamboanga airport
Robie de Guzman • December 24, 2019 • 483
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said it has rescued 12 suspected victims of a human trafficking syndicate while they were attempting to leave the country via the southern backdoor.
In a statement, the BI said the group of women, hailing from different parts of the country, were intercepted at the international seaport in Zamboanga City on December 17 while they were about to board a ship bound for Sandakan, Malaysia.
Immigration port operations chief Grifton Medina said the group’s departure was stopped after immigration officers stationed at the port notice glaring inconsistencies in their answers during the interview.
The passengers were also unable to clearly detail their itinerary and their purpose in going to Malaysia.
The bureau said the intercepted passengers were turned over to proper agencies against trafficking for further investigation and assistance.
MANILA, Philippines – Eleven Chinese nationals have been ordered blacklisted for overstaying in the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Monday.
In a statement, the BI said the Chinese nationals were ordered to leave the country for exceeding their stay.
They also meted fines and penalties, the bureau added.
“These aliens are now barred from re-entering the Philippines for violating the conditions of their stay,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said.
“They were allowed to come here by availing a visa upon arrival (VUA), yet they abused that privilege by overstaying without valid reason and justification at all,” he added.
It was learned that the blacklisted Chinese nationals arrived in the Philippines on separate dates in November 2019 and December 2020.
They recently appeared at the BI main office in Manila to update their stay and present plane tickets manifesting their intention to leave the country when visa officers noted the violation, the BI said.
Under the rules, tourists issued with VUA are allowed to travel and stay in the Philippines for not more than 30 days.
The BI, however, suspended the implementation of the VUA in January to curb the spread of the COVID-19.
“The scheme remains suspended as the government continues to restrict the entry of foreign tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the bureau added.
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said its officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) recently intercepted seven Filipinos who were suspected of being victims of human trafficking.
In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the Filipino women were bound for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The agency’s travel control and enforcement unit stopped the women from leaving last Sept. 17 when they were about to board a flight to Dubai.
The bureau said three of the women were allegedly hired to work as caregivers in the UAE while the remaining four were recruited to work as marketing and sales agents for an interior design company.
The women attempted to leave by posing as first-time overseas Filipino workers but the papers they presented turned out to be fraudulent, the BI added.
“Verification made on the overseas employment certificates (OECs) they presented revealed that some of them are not in the records of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), while the others appear to have been issued to other persons,” BI-TCEU Chief Ma. Timotea Barizo said.
A check of the passengers’ UAE visas showed that they were traveling to Dubai only as tourists and not as workers, she added.
The women, whose names could not be divulged following anti-trafficking laws, were later turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.
Morente once again warned those who want to work abroad not to deal with unregistered agencies or recruiters as these shady characters are employed by human traffickers to recruit their victims.
“We were told that these intercepted victims all said that they met their handlers and recruiters via social media and that their travel papers were only handed to them a few days before their scheduled flights,” he said.
“They did not know that these fraudulent papers could result in interception by our officers,” he added.
The BI chief earlier said that human traffickers have resumed their nefarious activities despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday announced it has opened a quarantine facility to house foreign detainees with mild to moderate symptoms of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The BI said its Ligtas COVID Centre is located inside the New Bilibid Prison Compound in Muntinlupa City.
The facility can accommodate 30 to 60 persons and will be staffed by medical personnel and guarded by the officers of the BI Warden Facility (BIWF) 24/7.
The BI said it is also planning to install CCTV cameras in the ward, similar to those in hospitals, for remote monitoring and to lessen physical contact.
The project is in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Corrections, the bureau said.
BIWF chief Remiecar Caguiron said they used to isolate foreign detainees with COVID-19 symptoms in the custodial quarters of their detention facility at Camp Bagong Diwa, adding that this setup poses a big risk for both the personnel and detainees of contracting the disease.
“We have very limited space in our warden facility, and the number of detained aliens remain high. That’s why this isolation ward lessens the risk, and is a big help in ensuring the health and safety of everyone in the BIWF,” she said.
There are currently 315 aliens detained at the BIWF for various immigration offenses.
The number of detainees ballooned following the BI’s crackdown on large companies that hired illegal aliens earlier this year.
The BI earlier reported that they moved to decongest the detention center as early as April this year.
Caguiron said more than a hundred aliens have already been deported since April, while at-risk detainees have been released on bail.
“Overcrowding in the facility is a health risk, and we want to ensure that we mitigate this risk and stop the spread of this disease though the help of this isolation facility,” she said.
The BI said five aliens have so far tested positive for coronavirus but most of them are now recovering from the viral respiratory disease.
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