BI intercepts 13 holders of fake airline tickets bound for HK

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2019   •   1243

FILE PHOTO: Ninoy Aquino International Airport

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has warned the public to be wary of scammers following the arrest of 13 Filipino passengers bound for Hong Kong caught in possession of fake airline tickets at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were intercepted last Monday (July 8) at the airline counter of Cathay Pacific at the NAIA 3 terminal.

According to the BI, the passengers were scammed and only found out about it at the airport after the attending airline personnel discovered that their tickets were not encoded in their system.

“It seems that they are victims of a scammers who prey on the public by selling fake tickets at cheap prices to entice their victims,” Medina said.

According to the initial investigation by the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), the passengers pointed at one of their woman companions as the person who enticed them to buy the plane tickets.

The woman, however, said she was not aware that the tickets were bogus.

She also couldn’t present credentials of the person who offered her the bogus tickets whom she knew only by the name ‘Jennifer’.

BI TCEU Chief Timotea Barizo confirmed also that their hotel bookings were cancelled as well.

“They were also allegedly told to wear T-shirts bearing the name of a herbal product during their trip and were instructed to take off the shirts after they are cleared by Immigration,” said Barizo.

“It was done to make it seem like they were on an official company trip abroad. Why would they be instructed to misrepresent themselves if there was no ill intention?” she added.

Barizo suspects that they have been victimized by illegal recruiters who promised jobs abroad.

All 13 passengers were eventually turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.

Villanueva urges DOLE, BI to join crackdown on tax-evading POGOs

Robie de Guzman   •   November 28, 2019

Senator Joel Villanueva

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva has urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to join the government’s crackdown on tax-evading Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO).

Villanueva made the statement after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Wednesday shuttered a POGO service provider for failure to register its branch offices in Parañaque City to pay taxes.

“We could only hope that the BIR’s steely determination rubs off on the inter-agency task force assembled to stem the tide that is the influx of illegal workers. Since its organization in May, it has yet to mount a single round of joint inspections similar to the BIR’s effort,” the senator said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“Agencies concerned like DOLE and the BI in particular should be at the forefront of inspections such as this. They should be coordinating with the member-agencies of the inter-agency task force consistent with their mandate,” he added.

Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on labor, believes BIR’s efforts to shut down tax-evading offshore gaming firms could be maximized if DOLE and BI will join its operations.

“Had representatives from the DOLE and BI joined the BIR’s operation this morning, a proper labor inspection in the office premises could have been done, while immigration officials could have inspected the work visas of the employees. We could have maximized the opportunity that BIR already had,” he said.

The lawmaker also called on DOLE to remain committed to its mandate to “only accept foreign workers in the country if there are no other capable, able, and willing Filipino to do the job.”

He also expects the BI to fulfill its commitment to issue guidelines clarifying the working definitions of 14 occupations for which it could issue special work permits.

Meanwhile, Villanueva lauded the efforts of the BIR and the Department of Finance (DOF) to “keep business in check” especially in settling their obligations to the government.

“The Philippines is always open for business as long as companies conform with prevailing requirements and pay its correct taxes due to the government,” he said.

The DOF earlier ordered to close down all POGOs and their service providers that fail or refuse to settle their tax liabilities.

Immigration bureau warns against job offers on social media

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 18, 2019

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has warned the public against job offers circulating on social media, especially on Facebook.

“Do not deal with unlicensed recruiters as they cannot guarantee your safety, good working conditions, and salaries according to industry standards,” according to Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente.

The BI said a group of women was apprehended at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last Sunday (November 17).

Morente said they posed as tourists going to Singapore and Malaysia but were really victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.

The immigration bureau also reported they were recruited by a syndicate using Facebook and other social media networking sites to work as household service workers in Dubai.

The immigration chief said not to apply in unlicensed recruiters.

“Chances are you will be intercepted at our ports if you avail the services of fraudsters and illegal recruiters,” Morente said. —AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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BI: Wanted Canadian-American rape suspect arrested at NAIA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has reported the arrest of a Canadian-American man accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in Subic more than a year ago.

Authorities identified the man as 54-year-old Fouad Bounab. He arrived Saturday (November 9) night at NAIA 3 terminal aboard an Air Asia flight from Kuala Lumpur.

Atty. Rommel Tacorda, who heads the BI’s border control and intelligence unit (BCIU), disclosed that Bounab is on the wanted list of the Interpol which earlier issued a red notice against him.

“He fled to Malaysia to evade prosecution for his crime. Fortunately, our counterparts in Malaysia were able to trace his whereabouts and he was arrested and brought back to Manila,” he said.

According to the BI, Bounab allegedly lured his minor victim to have sex with him through social media for the purpose of prostitution and sexual exploitation.

A warrant of arrest was issued by Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Gemma Logronio on July 8 this year against Bounab.—AAC

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