MANILA, Philippines – Personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Tuesday (April 22) intercepted two Filipinas illegally recruited to work in Qatar.
According to a report from BOC’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), the two Filipinas were intercepted at the departure area of NAIA Terminal 3 when they attempted to board a flight via Qatar Airways.
“The quick eye of our immigration officers in the frontlines saw that there was reason to suspect the duo, upon noticing that their Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs) are not encoded in our linked database with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” TCEU Chief Ma. Timotea Barizo said in her report to Immigration Chief Jaime Morente.
As a matter of protocol, the duo were referred to the terminal’s POEA Labor Assistance Center (LAC) to verify their documents.
They returned presenting a validated slip, which the officers discovered were falsified.
During questioning by the BI’s TCEU, both victims then confessed that their OEC validation forms were only given by their handler near the airport’s exit, to whom they each paid P35,000 in return for the document package they presented.
According to Barizo, falsifying OECs is futile because they have an integrated system with the POEA to check if all departing OFWs are properly documented.
“Securing the proper documents and clearances from the POEA is crucial for all aspiring OFWs to protect them from abusive companies and employers,” Barizo further reminded.
Morente lauded the efforts of immigration officers against human trafficking but expressed his dismay towards trafficking and illegal recruitment syndicates.
“This should now serve as a warning to syndicates who may have falsely believed that the bureau has become lenient in screening documents during the pandemic,” Morente said.
Both victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation and assistance.