The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it barred more than 38,000 travelers from leaving the country last year due to its unrelenting campaign against human trafficking in the different international ports. Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente disclosed that the 38,522 persons whose departures were deferred last year is 16-percent more than the nearly 33,000 travelers who were stopped from leaving in 2018.
“The men and women manning our ports deserve to be commended for their vigilance. So long as there are people who are victimized by trafficking syndicates we will not relax our guard,” Morente said. “We are duty-bound to remove them from harm’s way.” The Bureau of Immigration chief specifically lauded personnel assigned to the bureau’s port operations division (POD) and travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) for their accomplishments. BI-POD chief Grifton Medina said most of the passengers were not allowed to board their flights for failure to comply with requirements for overseas bound passengers which are spelled out in guidelines promulgated by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT). Medina said the said guidelines have been implemented in the past few years in order to combat human trafficking and illegal migration in the country’s ports of exit. According to BI-TCEU chief Ma. Timotea Barizo, about 85 percent or nearly 33,000 of the said passengers were stopped at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) while the rest were stopped in the airports of Mactan, Clark, Iloilo, Kalibo, and Davao. Barizo said passengers were often intercepted for misrepresentation or for submitting fraudulent supporting and travel documents. She added that more than 400 passengers were turned over to the IACAT for investigation and filing of charges against their handlers and recruiters. It will be recalled that due to the government’s successful drive against trafficking, the Philippines has consistently retained its Tier 1 ranking in the US State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. A Tier 1 rating means the Philippine government fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and has continually demonstrated serious and sustained efforts to combat the crime. "The country's Tier 1 rating is a result of an inter-agency effort in combating human trafficking," Morente shared.