7 suspected trafficking victims intercepted at NAIA – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   February 6, 2020   •   232

MANILA, Philippines – Operatives of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have intercepted seven women who were suspected of being victims of a human trafficking syndicate.

In a statement, BI port operations divisions chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were stopped last Thursday, January 30 at the departure area of the NAIA Terminal 3 as they were about to board their flight to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Medina said the women were barred from leaving the country after immigration officers found that the travel documents they presented were fake.

They were also caught in possession of counterfeit clearances from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) as well as validation forms purportedly showing that their papers were checked and cleared by Labor Assistance Center personnel at the airport.

“They admitted during an interview that the bogus documents were given to them by their handlers and they were recruited via Facebook to work as domestic helpers in the UAE,” Ma. Timotea Barizo, BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) chief, said.

The women were eventually turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation.

The bureau said the interception of the group was amid the implementation of stricter screening procedures at the airport as part of the Philippine government’s efforts to combat the spread of novel coronavirus in the country.

“This should send a signal to these syndicates that there is no letup in our anti-trafficking campaign despite the 2019 nCoV ARD outbreak. Our departure areas remain off-limits to human traffickers and their victims,” Medina said.

PH Immigration bans 11 ‘overstaying’ Chinese nationals

Robie de Guzman   •   September 28, 2020

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.

7 alleged human trafficking victims intercepted at NAIA – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2020

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.

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.

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