Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Tuesday intercepted two Filipinas illegally recruited to work in Qatar.
In a report to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, Travel Control and Enforcement Unit Chief Ma. Timotea Barizo said that the passengers, whose names were withheld for their protection, were intercepted at the departure area of NAIA Terminal 3 when they attempted to board a flight via Qatar Airways.
Barizo shared that primary inspection officers thoroughly examine the documents of all Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) before they are cleared for departure.
“The quick eye of our immigration officers in the frontlines saw that there was reason to suspect the duo, upon noticing that their Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs) are not encoded in our linked database with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” Barizo further added.
As a matter of protocol, the duo were referred to the terminal’s POEA Labor Assistance Center (LAC) to verify their documents.
They returned presenting a validated slip, which the officers discovered were falsified.
BI intercepts fake OFWs bound for Qatar
During questioning by the BI’s TCEU, both victims then confessed that their OEC validation forms were only given by their handler near the airport’s exit, to whom they each paid P35,000 in return for the spurious document package they presented.
According to Barizo, falsifying OECs is futile because they have an integrated system with the POEA to check if all departing OFWs are properly documented.
“Securing the proper documents and clearances from the POEA is crucial for all aspiring OFWs to protect them from abusive companies and employers,” Barizo further reminded.
Morente then lauded the efforts of immigration officers against human trafficking but expressed his dismay towards trafficking and illegal recruitment syndicates.
“I commend the efforts of our immigration frontliners who, in spite of pandemic woes, continue to show vigilance in their work as public servants,” he said. “This should now serve as a warning to syndicates who may have falsely believed that the bureau has become lenient in screening documents during the pandemic,” Morente added.
Both victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation and assistance.