BI intercepts suspected human trafficking victim at NAIA

Robie de Guzman   •   March 10, 2020   •   365

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said its personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have rescued a suspected human trafficking victim attempting to depart the country.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the female passenger was intercepted at the NAIA Terminal 1 on March 6 while she was attempting to board a flight to Singapore.  

Morente said the victim, whose name was withheld for her protection, was initially referred for verification to the on-duty immigration supervisor, as she attempted to enter the airport departure area.

“The supervisor noticed that the stamps on the passenger’s passport and boarding pass were spurious. Upon further verification, they have discovered that the stamp used was not a registered stamp,” he said.

The passenger later confessed that she did not undergo immigration inspection, and that she was intending to travel to Dubai for work under a job application with a certain agent named “Rency”.

“She was instructed to meet the agent at a fast food chain in the airport’s departure area. The agent got a hold of her passport and boarding pass, and gave them back to her with fake stamps,” BI Intelligence Division Chief Fortunato Manahan, Jr. said.

Manahan added that human traffickers would affix fake stamps in the passengers’ passports and boarding passes, so that their victims, when asked by authorities, could pretend they have already undergone the required immigration departure formalities.

“Since human traffickers could not provide the passengers with proper documents to work abroad, this is their cheap attempt to get their victims to evade immigration inspection,” he said.

The victim has been endorsed to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for proper assistance in filing a criminal complaint against her recruiter, the BI said.

The bureau also reiterated its advise for the public to only transact with registered and licensed recruitment agencies to avoid falling prey to illegal recruiters.

3 South Korean nationals wanted for telecom fraud nabbed in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   August 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Three South Korean nationals wanted by authorities in Seoul for their involvement in telecommunications fraud have been arrested in the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente identified the foreigners as Lim Yeongjun, 36; Kwom Hyeoksoo, 49; and Sim Dong Woo, 49.

Morente said the three were arrested last Tuesday, August 4 by joint operatives from the bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit (FSU) and the Philippine National Police.

They were caught inside the office of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at the Southern Police District (SPD) headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City where they were taken earlier into custody by policemen.

Morente said the Koreans, who are all overstaying aliens, are subjects of red notices from the Interpol, and that their passports were already revoked by their government.

The BI Chief, however, stressed that the subjects cannot be deported yet as they are facing criminal charges for violating the 1988 Access Device Regulation Act and 2011 Anti-Cybercrime Law.

In fact, the suspects are currently detained at the custodial facility of the CIDG while undergoing criminal investigation prior to the filing of complaints against them in court.

“It is only after these criminal charges are resolved, and upon completion of service of sentence, if they are convicted, that we will be able to deport them,” Morente said.

Information obtained from the BI Interpol Unit revealed that the fugitives operated clandestine call centers in Manila, which they used to trick and defraud their victims.

They allegedly deceived the victims by pretending that they are agents of lending institutions, and persuading the former to repay their loans in advance in order to avail of lower interest.

Korean authorities said the three suspects amassed from their phishing activities more than 80 million won or roughly more than US$67,000, which the unsuspecting victims deposited into the suspects’ bank accounts.

“Consequently, we’re not only able to bring these criminals to justice. We also prevented them from using our country as a refuge so they could evade prosecution for their crimes. Besides, their presence here poses a threat to our people’s welfare and safety,” Morente said.

P15M worth of misdeclared high-end goods seized at NAIA

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A shipment of high-end branded goods that were misdeclared as personal effects was recently apprehended at the Port of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

In a statement, the BOC said the shipment, which consisted of bags, shoes, wallets and other luxury goods was valued at P15 million.

The items included high-end brands like Chanel, Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Balenciaga bags, shoes, wallets, and earrings.

The bureau said that the shipment was fraudulently declared as personal effects, consisting of shampoo, soap, towels, toiletries, canned goods, milk and chocolates, packed in 17 cartons. It was shipped from Milano, Italy through RRG Freight Service Forwarder in Paicargo Warehouse.

A physical examination of the subject shipment confirmed that it actually consists of high-end goods in commercial quantities.

The BOC said the misdeclaration is an apparent attempt to evade payment of correct duties and taxes by circumventing duty and tax free privileges afforded to balikbayan boxes.

According to Port of NAIA district collector Carmelita Talusan, the shipment will be subjected to seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of Section 1400 in relation to Section 1113 of the CMTA.

The records and details of the apprehension shall be referred to the Bureau Action Team Against Smugglers (BATAS) for case profiling and build up against the personalities involved in the foiled smuggling.

BI suspends online appointment, scales down operations starting Aug. 4

Marje Pelayo   •   August 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced that it is temporarily suspending its online appointment system for foreign clients at the agency’s main office in Intramuros, Manila starting Tuesday (August 4) as Metro Manila shifts to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente advises clients with confirmed appointments between August 3 and 18 to just reapply for new schedules to transact at the Bureau after the MECQ is lifted.

The suspension of the online appointment system is needed because the agency is compelled to operate at limited manpower while the MECQ is in effect, Morente said.

However, the system will remain open to foreign clients who are scheduled to leave the Philippines during the MECQ period.

Likewise, it will continue to reserve slots for departing aliens who need to secure their Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC), re-entry permit and update their extension fees.

For outbound foreigners, however, Morente said they should present confirmed flight bookings or plane tickets prior to entering the BI’s premises.

Among the transactions that are suspended at the main office include:

  • Applications for conversion to or renewal of immigrant visa;
  • Petition for recognition as Philippine citizens, including Republic Act 9225 or the dual citizenship law;
  • Downgrading of visa status;
  • Tourist visa extension;
  • Special work permits (SWP) and provisional permit to work (PPW);
  • Renewal of alien certificate of registration (ACR I-Cards); and
  • Implementation of applications for visa conversion or extension approved by the Bureau’s Board of Commissioners (BOC).

The BI further advised departing aliens under tourist visa, who overstayed in the country for not more than six months, to just pay their visa extension fees at the airport.

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