By Jun Ramirez
Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have stopped from leaving five female teenagers who passed themselves as adults to work abroad.
In a report to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, BI Deputy Commissioner and Port Operations Division Chief Marc Red Mariñas said the women, who appeared to be minors, attempted to board a flight to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when they were intercepted at the NAIA Terminal 1.
“This is a clear case of human trafficking involving a syndicate that sends young girls to work abroad by letting them assume the identities of older women through falsification and tampering of travel documents,” Mariñas said.
He disclosed that all five women were in possession of valid overseas employment certificates (OECs) and employment contracts and working visas.
“They were evasive and gave inconsistent answers when asked about their age and date of birth during secondary inspection,” Mariñas reported.
The names of the victims were not divulged for their protection and as it is prohibited under anti-human trafficking laws.
Due to incident, Morente directed Mariñas to alert all immigration officers at the NAIA to be doubly strict and vigilant in screening departing OFWs.
“In particular, you should ensure that the person and the documents presented match,” the BI chief told Mariñas.
The five passengers were intercepted barely a week after a 17-year-old girl was barred from leaving NAIA for passing herself as a 23-year-old OFW bound for
Mariñas said he already instructed members of the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement unit (TCEU) at the NAIA to be on the lookout for other passengers who might fall prey to the same scheme in their desire to work abroad.
The victims were immediately turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for investigation and assistance