At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
PHOTO BY ARCHIVE
MANILA — A total of 30 undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) disguised as tourists bound for the Middle East were barred from leaving the country by Bureau of Immigration-Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (BI-TCEU) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the passengers, consisting of 18 women and 12 men, were about to board an Emirates Airlines flight to Dubai on Friday (March 29) when they were intercepted by immigration personnel.
“All of them initially claimed they were going to visit a friend or relative in Dubai for a vacation and presented as proof their tourist visas and return tickets,” he said in a statement.
“But inconsistencies in their statements prompted the immigration officers to doubt their purpose, so they were referred to the TCEU for secondary inspection,” he added.
The OFWs later admitted that they were going to work abroad and their travel documents were only given to them that day by their handler, who met them outside the airport.
On the other hand, BI-TCEU chief Erwin Ortañez reported that except for one passenger who presented a fake visa, all of them had valid tourist visas duly issued by the United Arab Emirates’ Interior Ministry.
He said 29 of the passengers stated that they were hired to work as waiters and waitresses in various Dubai hotels while one of them said his final destination is Baghdad, Iraq where he was recruited as kitchen supervisor.
All of them were turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation to facilitate the filing of human trafficking charges against their recruiters.
Meanwhile, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente lauded the apprehension of the passengers, noting that it is a big leap in their campaign against human trafficking.
“As a result of this incident, we were able to rescue our kababayans from the risk of being abused and exploited abroad, which they are prone to suffer due to their status as undocumented workers,” he said.
He urged the frontline immigration officers to continue to be vigilant amid repeated attempts by trafficking syndicates to send their victims out of the country. PNA
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