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PASAY, Philippines— Bureau of Immigration Chief Grifton Medina."Our immigration officers found numerous inconsistencies in their statements. They all eventually admitted having United Arab Emirates (UAE) visas in their possession and that their final destination is Dubai where they were recruited to work as household service workers.". Four undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) hired to work as household service workers (HSW) in Dubai were stopped at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for attempting to leave for Bangkok in the guise of being tourists, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

“We are in the midst of an intensified campaign against human trafficking, thus we are warning aspiring OFWs to comply with the rules and requirements for overseas workers,” said Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente in a statement. “We are likewise warning recruiters and other cohorts not to attempt to assist or vouch for illegal workers, as you will face human trafficking cases which could lead to life imprisonment,” he added. The Bureau of Immigration chief issued the statement after immigration officers intercepted four women at the NAIA Terminal 3 who pretended they were going to Thailand as vacationing tourists. Bureau of Immigration port operations division chief Grifton Medina reported that the women were about to board a flight to Bangkok last Oct. 9 when they were intercepted by members of the bureau’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU). “They pretended that they all knew each other as they were co-workers and friends,” said Medina. He added that a woman who allegedly recruited the workers and was supposed to vouch for them and accompany them in their trip was also barred from leaving. They were all turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for investigation and filing of appropriate charges, Medina said. Bureau of Immigration TCEU chief Timotea Barizo said the women initially claimed to be employed at the travel agency owned by their recruiter, who also arranged their trip to Bangkok. “During immigration inspection, the recruiter would act as the spokesperson for the entire group. She kept on answering for everyone, and has everyone’s documentation. This caused our officers to further doubt their story, hence they verified and eventually discovered the deceit,” said Barizo. “We are noticing here a pattern where trafficking victims are being made to appear as employees of their recruiters. But such scheme will not work anymore, luma na yan, we knew of this trick a long time ago,” Barizo said. The names of the passengers were not divulged to a prohibition in the anti-trafficking law.

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