THE Bureau of Immigration yesterday said it has uncovered a modus operandi of human traffickers that house and train their victims at safe houses before deployment abroad.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the modus operandi was discovered after two women were recently barred from leaving the country for falsifying their age.
Morente said the two told investigators they were kept by their handlers in a safehouse in Paco, Manila for two months before they were booked for their flights to work abroad.
To prevent a repeat of the incident, Morente has directed the BI’s Port Operations Division (POD) and the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) to conduct strict profiling and inspection of departing passengers to ensure underage OFWs are not allowed to leave.
BI POD chief Grifton Medina said the two women aged 19 and 20 were intercepted last Sept. 21 at the NAIA Terminal 2 while trying to board a flight to Saudi Arabia.
Medina said they presented valid passports, visas, job contract, and overseas employment certificates but the birth dates in their documents were altered to make it appear they met the age requirement for household service workers in Saudi Arabia which is 23 years.
“They initially claimed they were 26 years old but eventually admitted their real age upon questioning,” Medina said.
BI-TCEU chief Timotea Barizo said the women claimed they were briefed and taught by their recruiters how to respond to questions from immigration officers.
“The two victims admitted that their documents were given only prior to departure, and that they were told to open it only after check in. This forces them to go on and comply with the scheme despite the discrepancy since they are already there,” he said.
The BI official said they are coordinating with other law enforcement agencies to track down and apprehend those behind the recruitment of the two women.