|RP embassy in Bahrain lauds BI|
FEBRUARY 12, 2012
Philippine embassy officials in Bahrain have commended the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for the sharp decline in the number of undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there as a result of the agency’s intensified drive against human trafficking and the escort racket at the airports.
In a letter to BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr., Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain Corazon Yap-Bahjin congratulated the bureau for a “job well done” in curtailing the departure for Bahrain of Filipino would-be victims of human traffickers and illegal recruiters.
The ambassador recalled that in previous years, undocumented OFWs would usually account for more than 70 percent of Filipinos staying at the Philippine Labor Office of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (PLO-OWWA) in the Middle Eastern kingdom.
In the past Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials have oftentimes complained over the unhampered departure of undocumented Filipino workers because of problems that they give to Philippine consuls and diplomats whenever they ran into trouble abroad.
The exodus of the undocumented OFWs was blamed on the escort racket allegedly involving BI and other government personnel assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other exit ports.
However, right after President Aquino assumed office in July 2010, the BI, at the instance of the Palace and Department of Justice (DOJ), launched an intensified campaign against human trafficking by adopting stricter rules in screening Filipinos bound for countries that are known favored destinations of OFWs, including the Middle East, Singapore, Hongkong and Malaysia.
As a result, thousands of undocumented OFWs and human trafficking victims were barred from leaving the country for failure to present the required overseas employment certificates.