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|133 OFWs intercepted at Clark airport - BI|
14 February 2009
Immigration officers at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) barred from leaving the country during the first week of February a total of 133 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), believed to be victims of illegal recruiters, who attempted to leave the country without the proper documents.
Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Marcelino Libanan disclosed that the passengers were offloaded from Feb. 1 to 9, adding the BI expects the number in the list to increase in the coming weeks. Libanan also said he has issued an order placing the 133 offloaded passengers in the immigration watchlist as part of a standard operating procedure that the BI adopted late last year to bolster its campaign against illegal recruitment and human trafficking.
“They will remain in our watchlist until they have complied with the requirements for departing OFWs or have shown proof that they are legitimate tourists and are not going abroad to work,” the BI chief said.
Libanan reiterated his warning to Filipinos who want to work abroad to go through the required processing by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) instead of dealing with illegal reruiters.
He also stressed that it is futile for these “tourist workers” to exit via the DMIA and other ports as the strict monitoring system that the BI successfully implemented at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is now in place in all major ports nationwide.
Since last year the BI has tightened its screening of passengers leaving DMIA following reports that illegal recruiters who used to operate at the NAIA have shifted their operations to Pampanga as a result of the BI’s intensified drive against human trafficking at the Manila airport.
A report submitted by DMIA-BI operations chief Heranio Manalo showed that undocumented OFWs bound for Malaysia and Singapore accounted for the bulk of passengers who were offloaded in the first nine days of February.
Also offloaded during the period were several women bound for Japan to work there as entertainers.
Most of the passengers were profiled as “tourist workers” as they claimed they were going abroad to visit their friends or relatives.
Some of them have been previously offloaded at the NAIA and had attempted to leave again, not knowing that their names have been placed in the BI watchlist. (BI News)