By Jun Ramirez
Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have thwarted another attempt by a syndicate to smuggle out of the country seven women bearing fake travel documents.
BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said the victims were intercepted last Thursday at the departure area of the NAIA 3 terminal as they were about to board a Cebu Pacific flight to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Medina said the passengers were barred from leaving after immigration officers found that the documents they presented were spurious.
“This should send a signal to these syndicates that there is no letup in our anti-trafficking campaign despite the novel coronavirus outbreak,” Medina said.
The outbreak has prompted the BI to implement stricter screening procedures for arriving travelers as part of measures to combat the spread of the virus.
Ma. Timotea Barizo, BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) chief, said the intercepted passengers were caught in possession of fake Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) clearances.
Barizo said the passengers presented validation forms purportedly checked and cleared by labor assistance center personnel at the airport which were also found to be counterfeit.
“They admitted during interview that the bogus documents were given to them by their handlers and they were recruited via Facebook to work as domestic helpers in the UAE,” Barizo added.
The women were eventually turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for investigation.