By Jun Ramirez
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) advised Friday prospective overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) not to fall prey to illegal tour operators and travel agencies illegally sending undocumented workers abroad.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the warning after two Filipinas recruited by a travel agency to work in Qatar were intercepted recently at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Morente said travel agencies are not authorized or licensed to recruit and deploy OFWs. Otherwise, they will be liable for criminal prosecution and their licenses cancelled.
According to BI port operations chief Grifton Medina, “Ann” and “Zeny”, not their real names, were stopped last Saturday by members of the bureau’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) at the NAIA Terminal 3.
Medina said the two were initially bound for Bangkok, Thailand and instructed by their recruiter to wait for their working visas and job contracts before proceeding to Qatar.
BI-TCEU chief Erwin Ortañez narrated the duo were told that upon arrival in Bangkok, a representative of their recruiter will give them their working visas to Doha, Qatar to work as a waitress and cashier.
Ortañez said the women were instructed to purchase a tour package at an agency in Angeles City, Pampanga.
They were also asked to prepare fake IDs to be presented to immigration officers.
They were among the 10 individuals recruited by the travel agency to work in Qatar flying out of the country in separate batches.
Both victims were later turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation and assistance.
Morente reiterated that aspiring OFWs should only apply through Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and licensed recruitment agencies.
“Always check and double check for your protection. The list of legal agencies is in POEA’s website. Do not be enticed by offers of illegal recruiters, as most of them only want to earn at your expense,” he added.