MANILA – Eight suspected human trafficking victims who tried to leave the country in the guise of being tourists were intercepted by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Saturday after one of them was inconsistent in her answers during an interview regarding their supposed vacation.
In a report sent to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente on Monday, BI Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were stopped at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 before they could board their Emirates Airways flight to Dubai en route to their final destination in northern Cyprus.
The apprehended individuals were composed of six men and two women, who all admitted during questioning that their actual purpose in going abroad is to work without proper documentation. Their names were not divulged as it is forbidden in anti-trafficking laws.
“Six of them were allegedly hired as cleaners in a restaurant while one of them was recruited as a cook,” he said in a statement.
Medina disclosed that the trafficking attempt was foiled when one of the female victims was referred for secondary inspection to the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) by the immigration officer who doubted her purpose of travel.
The passenger initially claimed she and her companions were traveling to Cyprus for a vacation, but her answers to questions during the interview were inconsistent.
“When she was interviewed, she admitted that she is traveling to Cyprus to work, and she voluntarily showed a message exchange between her and her recruiter discussing the amount that each of them would pay the syndicate for processing and facilitating their illegal travel to Cyprus,” the BI official added.
She also confessed that they only met each other at a house in Manila where they were briefed before going to the airport.
They were subsequently turned over the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.
With this, Morente commended the members of the TCEU on the recent catch.
“This incident shows that illegal recruiters and human traffickers would go to great lengths to fool our kababayans, and would entice them to pretend as tourists, especially during the holiday season. Let this serve as a warning to these syndicates, your illegal ways will not pass,” he said. (PNA)
Photo by AJ Bolando/Philstar