BI stops departure of trafficking victims

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    IMMIGRATION officers at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu City have thwarted an attempt by four suspected human trafficking victims to leave the country.

    Grifton Medina, chief of the Bureau of Immigration’s Ports Operation Division, said the four women, who were in their late 20s to 40s, were intercepted on February 1 at the departure area of the airport before they can board a flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

    Medina said the four admitted during questioning that upon arriving in Bangkok, they were to fly to Dubai where they were hired to work as domestic helpers.

    The incident took place two days after immigration personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport prevented the departure of seven individuals who confessed they were recruited to work as domestic helpers also in Dubai.

    “It seems that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has not deterred these syndicates from continuing with their nefarious activities. We are warning their would-be victims they will not be able to leave the country, contrary to the promise of their recruiters,” Medina said.

    Ma. Asuncion Palma-Gil, head of the BI MCIA Travel and Control Enforcement Unit, said the four initially claimed they were tourists going to Thailand for a vacation but could not give their itineraries, further arousing the suspicion of immigration personnel.

    “There were inconsistencies in their statements and they were unable to prove their financial capability to travel abroad. They stated they are unemployed and have no visible means of income in the country,” Palma-Gil added.

    She said that eventually, the four admitted they were recruited by a “Jessa” from a Dubai-based recruitment agency, who gave them instructions on what to do when undergoing inspection by immigration personnel.

    Medina said they have already referred the case to the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking for further investigation and assistance in filing a case against their recruiters.