3 alleged human trafficking victims intercepted at NAIA – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   August 3, 2020   •   535

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.

Duterte orders Cebu to follow IATF’s COVID-19 testing, quarantine protocols for returning Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   June 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the provincial government of Cebu to adhere to the COVID-19 testing and quarantine protocols set by the national government for returning overseas Filipinos, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement after the memorandum from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on the diversion of Cebu-bound flights to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) lapsed on June 12.

“From the Office of the Executive Secretary, the President has decided that the IATF protocols must be implemented by the Cebu province,” Roque said during his regular online briefing.

“The President has also considered the DOH critique and has decided that Cebu province must abide by IATF arrival protocols,” he added.

Cebu had been administering RT-PCR tests on returning nationals upon their arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

This is contrary to the IATF protocols, which require arriving Filipinos to undergo quarantine in a government-accredited facility for 10 days and take an RT-PCR test on the seventh day of their arrival.

“The last extension was just a preparation for full implementation of that decision,” Roque said, pertaining to Medialdea’s order to extend the diversion of flights bound for Cebu to NAIA, which was in effect from June 5 to 12.

Roque, however, leaves to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) the decision on what measure to take should Cebu continue to defy the national government’s protocol.

Duterte earlier met with Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to discuss quarantine protocols.

Palace extends diversion of Cebu-bound int’l flights to NAIA until June 12

Robie de Guzman   •   June 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The diversion to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) of international flights bound for the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) will be extended to June 12, Malacañang announced on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has issued a memo extending the flight diversion “until 23:59 hours of June 12.”

 Roque said this is to provide ample time for authorities to thresh out Cebu Province’s COVID-19 protocols for returning Filipinos, which differs from the directives issued by the national government.

International flights for MCIA were initially redirected to NAIA from May 29 to June 5.

“Ito po’y para maayos yung pag-implement ng IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) arrival protocol sa Cebu,” Roque said in a media briefing.

The Cebu government requires passengers to undergo a test upon arrival at the airport while the IATF requires screening of passengers on the 7th day of their quarantine.

President Rodrigo Duterte last week met with Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to discuss this difference.

Roque expects the Cebu government to comply with the specific protocols mandated by the IATF after the flight diversion period ends.

“Upon resumption of flights to Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the travel and testing protocols approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases will be fully and seamlessly implemented,” Roque said, reading from the memo.

“Inaasahan po natin that on the 13th of June, the IATF protocols on arriving OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and OFs (overseas Filipinos) will be implemented in Cebu. Yan po ay according to the memorandum issued by the executive secretary dated 5 of June 2021,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Foreigners’ unused entry exemptions docs considered expired starting June 1 – BI

Marje Pelayo   •   May 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Starting June 1, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said that foreign nationals with entry exemption documents (EEDs) issued before February 8 this year will no longer be allowed entry.

In an advisory, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said the BI will implement the said travel guidelines pursuant to a communication received from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“We were informed by the DFA that entry exemption documents now have a validity of 90 days from the date of issuance,” said Morente.

“As an effect, we were informed that all issued before February 8 are deemed expired by June 1,” he added.

Thus, aliens who are still holding said EEDs that remain unused must enter the country on or before May 31.

Meanwhile, entry exemptions issued by the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) during the travel ban from March 22 to April 30 may still be used until May 31.

BI Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong said this was allowed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) in a resolution passed earlier this month which ruled that entry exemptions issued by the NTF shall be recognized as valid until May 31.

Capulong added that in compliance with the IATF-MEID resolution, all 9(A) visa holders, as well Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV) holders, are required to secure entry exemptions from the DFA to be allowed entry into the Philippines.

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