MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has warned aspiring overseas Filipino workers not to fall prey to modus operandi being done by unscrupulous agencies.
The warning came after authorities intercepted several trafficking victims of the so-called ‘third-country recruitment.’
Morente cited a report from the Bureau’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) in Manila and Pampanga which bared an emerging modus of Filipino female workers presenting work documents bound for Maldives, but are actually bound for the UAE.
According to Morente, this ‘third-country recruitment’ sends OFWs to work in a particular country, but are later illegally transported to another country to work there.
The official said rescued trafficking victims from war-torn countries such as Syria were usually victims of the said scheme.
On May 4, TCEU officers from NAIA Terminal 3 reported the interception of two female OFWs — a 26 year old and another 33 — who presented valid overseas employment certificates (OECs), work visas for Maldives, employment contracts, and itineraries bound for Maldives.
However, upon verification with online systems, it was discovered that both victims were in possession of valid tourist visas for the UAE.
Both of the victims admitted that they received their documents only prior to departure, and one of the victims stated that she was instructed by their recruiter to conceal her UAE visa.
She admitted that they applied for a job as domestic helpers, but were given documents for a position as sales assistants in Maldives.
On May 16, TCEU officers from Clark International Airport, on the other hand, intercepted another two female victims aged 34 and 36.
Both presented documents to work in Maldives as an attendant and a receptionist, but were found to be in possession of visas for the UAE.
One of the victims admitted that she was promised work as a cleaner in UAE, and that she paid P37,000 to her recruiter for the processing of her travel documents.
Her companion, who was repatriated from the UAE in 2020, admitted to heading back to work as a household service worker, and has paid P50,000 to her recruiter.
“When we intercept such cases, we furnish the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration a copy of our report, and we are very thankful that they have been very active in suspending or cancelling the accreditation of the erring agency,” said Morente.
“Stopping these illegal schemes really needs the cooperation of different government agencies that must work hand in hand to eliminate this societal ill,” he added.
The victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance and filing of appropriate charges against their recruiters.