|NAIA-BI intercepts 18 human trafficking victims|
June 28, 2012
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has sought an investigation into the case of 19 suspected human trafficking victims intercepted by immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last May while trying to leave for Italy and South Korea.
BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) is now the probing the case of the 18 undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) after they were barred from leaving the country.
David said the passengers, who were intercepted on two separate occasions last May 16 and May 28, had all pretended to be tourists when actually their purpose in leaving was to work abroad.
“It was evident from the results of secondary inspection conducted by our immigration officers that the passengers were victims of human trafficking. We had no choice but to disallow their departure,” the BI chief said.
The May 16 incident involved 13 passengers disguised as members of a religious group who claimed that they were invited to attend the 7th World Families Meeting in Milan, Italy, a triennial international event hosted by the Vatican.
The passengers were accompanied by a certain “archbishop” from the Orthodox Catholic Church in the Philippines (OCCP) who, they said, was the one who facilitated their travel to Italy.
When immigration officials sought the archbishop for questioning, the latter disappeared and apparently left the airport to evade investigation. He is now the subject of investigation by the IACAT.
It also turned out during questioning that the passengers are actually Roman Catholics and not members of the OCCP.
David said the IACAT is also probing the case of six Filipino women bound for South Korea who were intercepted at the NAIA 1 terminal last May 28.
The women initially claimed they would be vacationing in Hongkong but were prompted to admit during questioning that they were going to South Korea.
They then presented their E-6 visas from the South Korean embassy and admitted that they were going there to work as nightclub entertainers.
Again, the BI did not reveal the names of the passengers due to a law that forbids the public disclosure of human traffickers and their victims.###