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The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said its officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) thwarted another attempt by a syndicate to spirit seven human trafficking victims out of the country.

Bureau of Immigration port operations division chief Grifton Medina said the victims, all women, were intercepted last Thursday at the departure area of the NAIA 3 terminal as they were about to board a Cebu Pacific flight to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Medina said the passengers were barred from leaving after immigration officers found that the documents they presented are spurious. “This should send a signal to these syndicates that there is no letup in our anti-trafficking campaign despite the 2019 nCoV ARD outbreak. Our departure areas remain off limits to human traffickers and their victims,” Medina said. The virus outbreak has prompted the Bureau of Immigration to implement stricter screening procedures for arriving travelers as part of measures to combat the spread of the virus. According to Ma. Timotea Barizo, Bureau of Immigrai’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) chief, the intercepted passengers were caught in possession of fake Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) clearances. Barizo said the passengers presented validation forms purportedly showing that their papers were checked and cleared by Labor Assistance Center personnel at the airport were also found to be counterfeit. “They admitted during interview that the bogus documents were given to them by their handlers and they were recruited via Facebook to work as domestic helpers in the UAE,” Barizo added. The women were eventually turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for investigation.

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