3 alleged human trafficking victims intercepted at NAIA – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   August 3, 2020   •   274

MANILA, Philippines – Three people suspected of being victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment have been intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said on Monday.

In a report to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, BI port operations division acting chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were stopped last week before they could board their flights to the Middle East and Europe.

Medina said one of the victims was bound for Dubai while the two others were destined for Greece, all of them showing intentions to work illegally as undocumented workers.

According to BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), the Dubai-bound passenger was intercepted last 25 July 2020 after the immigration officer noticed that the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) was not cleared and validated by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration – Labor Assistance Center (POEA-LAC) desk at the NAIA.

Verification with the POEA-LAC later revealed that the said OEC was tampered as it was issued to someone else and not to the said passenger.

The victim then admitted that her trip was processed by her handlers and that her documents were only given to her when she arrived at the airport.

The BI-TCEU also reported that the two Greece-bound passengers who were intercepted last Saturday, August 2, likewise presented fraudulent travel documents, including fake OECs and local employment certificates.

The bureau said that upon interview, they confessed that their documents were only handed to them at the airport. They also said they were recruited to work in Athens by their handlers to whom they each paid P95,000 in return for facilitating their trip and processing their documents.

“Thanks to the vigilance of our primary inspectors for foiling these attempts by human trafficking syndicates to sneak their victims out of the country,” Medina said.

The victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for investigation, according to the bureau.

P4.5 million worth of shabu seized in Pasay City

Robie de Guzman   •   September 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has seized 640 grams of shabu (crystal meth) estimated to worth P4.5 million in a warehouse in Pasay City.

The contraband was found in an unclaimed parcel at the DHL warehouse.

The BOC said the seized illegal drug was concealed inside tin cans of wafer and packs of chocolates, stuffed toys, candies and slippers to avoid detection.

It was shipped from Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States and consigned to a certain resident of Hagonoy, Bulacan.

However, its contents were detected through “intensified vigilance and profiling BOC-NAIA” and coordinated with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA and the NAIA Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (IADITG).

Chemical Laboratory Analysis conducted by PDEA confirmed that the seized white crystalline substance were indeed methamphetamine hydrochloride.

The BOC said the items have been turned over to the PDEA on Sept. 24 for further profiling and case build-up against those behind its importation for possible prosecution for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in relation to Section 1401 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

PH Immigration opens isolation ward for foreign detainees with COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   September 21, 2020

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.

BOC destroys tons of seized illegal vape products, other goods

Robie de Guzman   •   September 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Around 21 tons of unsafe and hazardous goods were destroyed in a facility in Trece Martires, Cavite, the Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) said on Monday.

In a statement, the BOC said the items, which included unregistered vape products, medicines and other supplies, were destroyed on Sept. 9.

The vape products were seized for lack of necessary importation permits from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the bureau added.

Vape products are used for inhalation of vapor created by an electronic cigarette and other similar devices. These items have cartridges filled with liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings ad chemicals.

The importation and use of vape products were highly regulated by the FDA in view of its noted health hazards, while the importation of unregistered vape products was prohibited under Republic Act No. 11467.

The BOC-NAIA similarly condemned expired food supplies, dietary supplements, medicines, medical kits and devices, glutathione products which were also imported without the necessary FDA permit.

These products can pose health risks if not disposed properly, the bureau said.

Part of the condemned goods last September 9 were other regulated items such as animal feeds, cements, electrical items, bulbs and batteries that were imported without necessary clearances.

The BOC said it will continue to check unsafe and hazardous goods arriving into the country without the proper approval and safety standards clearance to protect consumers and to ensure that only products certified by regulatory agencies with necessary permits are released in the country’s ports of entry.

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