Intercepted Filipino victims of illegal recruitment, trafficking down in 2020 – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2021   •   371

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday reported that close to 12,000 Filipino travelers were barred from leaving the country last year amid the bureau’s continued drive against illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said immigration officers at the different ports of exit deferred the departure of 11,706 passengers, of which 9,411 were stopped at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The agency said that the number of passengers whose departure was deferred last year was 70% lower than the 38,522 travelers who were stopped from leaving in 2019.

“Travel restrictions and international flight suspensions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic naturally caused a tremendous drop in the number of Filipinos who traveled abroad in 2020,” Morente said in a statement.

He noted that it was only during October that the government started the gradual lifting of travel restrictions, including the ban on non-essential travel by Filipinos.

Nonetheless, Morente stressed it was evident that the pandemic did not stop human traffickers and illegal recruiters from their nefarious activities.

“Thanks to our vigilant immigration officers at the ports, many of these suspected human trafficking victims were intercepted and rescued before they could leave,” he said.

BI intelligence chief Fortunato Manahan Jr., who supervises the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit, also reported that 295 passengers were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking as possible trafficking victims.

Manahan said the most common reasons for preventing a passenger from leaving are failure to present required documents, carrying fraudulent documents, and misrepresentation.

Meanwhile, Morente reminded those who wish to work abroad not to fall prey to illegal recruiters and human traffickers and to coordinate with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to ensure that their work is registered.

“We are worried that once international travel returns to normal, there will be again a rise the number of victims,” he said.

“These illegal recruiters will sweet talk their victims and take advantage of the hardships that some of our kababayan face to make them agree to below-standard arrangements,” he added.

BI: Wanted Korean swindler nabbed in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A South Korean national wanted by authorities in Seoul for swindling and defrauding his compatriots has been arrested in the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Tuesday.

In a report to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, the bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit (FSU) identified the foreigner as Lee Beomseok, 42, who was arrested on Thursday in Angeles City, Pampanga.

Morente said he issued the mission order for Lee’s arrest at the request of the South Korean authorities in Manila following information that he is the subject of a criminal investigation for fraud in his country.

Lee is also the subject of an Interpol blue notice issued on March last year and he is already an undocumented alien due to the revocation of his passport by the Korean government, the BI chief added.

Citing its records, the BI said that sometime in September 2013, Lee received 25 million won, or equivalent to about US$22,000 from his first victim after persuading him to lend money for his alleged restaurant business.

The following year, Lee again reportedly enticed another victim to lend him a total of almost 280 million won, or roughly US$248,000, which the victim transferred to his bank account in several tranches.

The bureau said Lee is presently detained at the BI detention facility in Bicutan, Taguig pending issuance and implementation of the order for his deportation by the bureau’s board of commissioners.

“He will be placed on the immigration blacklist and banned from re-entering the Philippines,” Morente said.

PH now allows foreigners to renew expired re-entry permits at airports

Robie de Guzman   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign nationals with valid Philippine visas are now allowed to renew their expired re-entry permits (RP) and special return certificates (SRC) at the country’s airports, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

The BI said an RP is issued to a holder of an immigrant visa, who is a permanent resident in the Philippines, while the SRC is obtained by a non-immigrant such as holders of working visa and student visa.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the move will facilitate the unhampered entry of foreigners with existing valid visas who were not permitted to enter the Philippines when the coronavirus pandemic struck the world last year.

“Many of these foreign nationals have already expired RPs and SRCs, and the new procedure will allow them to renew this at the airport upon arrival,” Morente said in a statement issued on Sunday.

The bureau said foreigners cannot leave the country unless they have secured their RP or SRC as well as their emigration clearance certificate (ECC).

Official receipts of these payments are to be presented to the immigration officer upon these aliens’ return to the country, it said.

Re-entry permit fees are valid from six months to one year from the date of a foreigner’s departure, it added.

The Philippine government earlier this month eased travel restrictions to allow more foreigners to enter the country by including those with valid visas issued as of March 20, 2020.

BI: Bahraini man wanted for sex crimes nabbed in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A Bahraini national who is facing rape charges in his country has been arrested in the Philippines, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente identified the foreigner as Alsendi Waleed Abdulla Hamad, 43. He was arrested on Tuesday in Dasmariñas, Cavite by operatives from the bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit (FSU).

Morente said Hamad was arrested on orders of the Department of Justice (DOJ) following instruction to verify the presence and status here of the said Bahraini national and, if warranted, to initiate deportation proceedings against him.

Hamad is the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the public prosecutor’s office of Bahrain for sexual assault and possession of pornographic materials. Consequently, an Interpol red notice against him was issued two years ago, he added.

“He will be summarily deported as his presence here and record as a sex offender pose a serious threat to our people,” the BI chief said in a statement on Thursday.

Information from the BI showed that Hamad fled to the Philippines in March 2016 after being accused of sexually assaulting a female victim in his apartment.

He is being detained at the BI warden facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City pending issuance of the order for his deportation by the bureau’s board of commissioners, the bureau said.

Hamad will also be placed on the immigration blacklist and banned from re-entering the Philippines, it added.

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