Immigration officer in hot water over links to human trafficking

Immigration officer in hot water over links to human trafficking

MANILA – A male immigration officer will face an administrative case for supposedly facilitating the departure of a couple who are reportedly victims of trafficking in Myanmar, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said on Thursday.

Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco, in a statement, said the officer has been removed from his post for his involvement in the case of the couple who worked as love scammers and arrived home on April 25 after escaping their employers.

Tansingco warned immigration personnel not to be involved in illegal cross-border activities.

“If you are innocent, I will defend you. But if I find out that you are involved, you will know the consequence of your action. I don’t care who your backer is,” he said.

According to the victims, they experienced physical abuse, threats, and starvation as consequences for not reaching their quota.

Both claimed that they were recruited via social media by a certain Maxesa and left the country in October 2022 purportedly for a four-day vacation in Singapore.

The two noted that from Singapore, they flew to Bangkok and were transported by armed men to Mae Sot City to eventually take a boat ride to Myanmar. After their successful escape, they sought assistance from the Philippine Embassy in Thailand.

Meanwhile, the BI also reported the rescue of two trafficking victims at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1.

The women were intercepted on separate occasions on April 28 and 29 as they were about to board their flights to Dubai.

Tansingco said the two were stopped from leaving after immigration officers at the airport found that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) employment visa that they presented was counterfeit.

The victims claimed that they obtained their travel documents only at the airport, a few hours before their scheduled flights and they did not know that the papers given to them were spurious.

“These syndicates have no sympathy or concern at all for the well-being of their victims. They prey on our poor countrymen who are lured to their evil ways because of their ardent desire to earn a living abroad in order to support their families here,” he said.

The BI’s travel control and enforcement unit reported that the passengers were both referred for secondary inspection after BI officers noticed that the overseas employment certificates they presented could not be validated in the database of the Department of Migrant Workers. Upon verification, it was determined that their UAE employment visas were also fraudulent.

The women were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for investigation and assistance in filing cases against their recruiters.

Last month, the bureau also relieved another officer from his post for allegedly helping clear passengers who attempted to board a flight to Lebanon to work as household service workers.

The women were allegedly being trafficked to work in the Middle East.

The passengers, initially disguised as tourists, said they would go on a tour but later confessed that their final destination is Lebanon, where they were recruited to work. (PNA)

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