BI intercepts suspected human trafficking victim at NAIA

Robie de Guzman   •   March 10, 2020   •   836

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.

BI issues lookout bulletin order vs Michael Yang, 8 others

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has issued an Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO) against former presidential adviser on economic affairs Michael Yang, also known as Yang Hong Ming.

Yang is among the subjects of an ongoing Senate investigation on the budget utilization of government-procured pandemic response supplies for alleged overpricing.

According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, the ILBO was issued in compliance to the order from the Department of Justice (DOJ) following a request from Senator Richard Gordon being the chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

“This matter is of national interest. We have made the proper arrangements, and our immigration officers are now on the lookout for the possible departure of the suspect personalities,” Morente said.

Meanwhile, pursuant to a September 7 order from the DOJ, former chief of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) Atty. Lloyd Christopher Lao was also placed under lookout bulletin.

Aside from Lao and Yang, the BI also placed under ILBO Overall Deputy Ombudsman Atty. Warren Rex Liong and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.’s executives Twinkle Dargani, Huang Tzu Yen, Krizle Grace Mago, Justine Garado, Linconn Ong, and Mohit Dargani.

The BI clarified that an ILBO is for monitoring the movement of subjects who might attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal process by leaving the country.

“An ILBO is issued for prudence to double check if there are any pending arrest warrants against the subjects, or monitor their itineraries and whereabouts, should they attempt to leave the country,” the BI explained.

The Senate has started an investigation on Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. to dig into the P8 billion worth of government contracts despite being a start-up company with only P625,000 in paid-up capital.

BI includes 9 countries in Philippines’ travel ban list

Marje Pelayo   •   September 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced a travel ban on nine more countries which  took effect on Sunday (September 12).

These countries are Azerbaijan, Guadeloupe, Guam, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Saint Lucia, and Switzerland.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said in an advisory said that passengers coming from, or who have been in the said countries within the last 14 days prior to their arrival to the Philippines, shall temporarily be barred entry.

This directive is in compliance with the recent directive from Malacañang, as recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Morente clarified that passengers already in transit from the 9 countries who will arrive before the implementation of the travel ban may be allowed to enter, subject to existing policies of the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).

Also, Filipinos arriving from countries under the “red list” via government or non-government repatriation programs or bayanihan flights, may be allowed entry.

However, they shall undergo a strict 14-day facility based quarantine, and be required to undergo a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test that will be monitored by the BOQ.

BI Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong added that those who had a mere layover at the nine countries are not covered by the travel ban.

The travel ban remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. of September 18, 2021.

BI cautions public against online scammers offering fake entry permits to foreigners

Marje Pelayo   •   September 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) warned the public against scammers victimizing foreign nationals by offering them fake entry permits on Facebook.

The warning comes after a complaint that alerted the BI about an individual offering entry permits.

According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, one victim was asked to contact an alleged immigration officer who would supposedly ensure the smooth entry of foreigners in exchange for grease money.

But based on BI records, the alleged immigration officer is not an employee of the agency.

“There is no such service. We believe that these scammers prey on the people they see on Facebook,” Morente said.

“It is disconcerting to know that there are still those who can take advantage of the vulnerable even during a pandemic,” he added.

At present, only Filipinos, foreign spouses and children of Filipinos, foreign parents of Filipino minors, and foreigners holding immigrant and non-immigrant visas are allowed entry in the Philippines.

The entry of tourists to the country remains restricted.

Entry exemption documents (EED) are issued by foreign posts abroad to foreigners who wish to enter the country with tourist visas.

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