Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) uncovered another scheme employed by human trafficking syndicates to facilitate the illegal departure of their victims from the country.
In a report to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, BI Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) officers said the scheme was discovered after a female overseas Filipino worker (OFW) was intercepted at the NAIA Terminal 3 last Sunday for attempting to board a Qatar Airways flight to Saudi Arabia.
The trafficking victim admitted during questioning that she falsified her travel documents by assuming the identity of her friend in her hometown in Mindanao. Her friend reportedly lent her birth certificate so she could apply for a passport that meets the age requirement to work as a household service worker (HSW) in Saudi Arabia.
“By assuming the identity of another person, she was able to secure a Philippine passport under a different name and with a different date of birth. This enabled her to obtain an overseas work permit from the government and her employment visa and job contract in Saudi Arabia,” Manahan added.
The passport supposedly showed that the victim is already 24 years old, although she confessed when interviewed that she is only 20 years of age.
The minimum age requirement for HSW deployment in the Middle East remains at 23.
The victim also narrated that she used her friend’s birth certificate to secure other identification documents such as her taxpayer’s identification number (TIN) card and postal ID.
Rescued trafficking victim assumed identity of friend – BI
Morente warned would-be OFWs against falling prey to the scheme, saying BI officers at the airport are adept in spotting and profiling underage OFWs.
“There’s a syndicate behind this illegal recruitment of minors and underage women,” said Morente. “For the past five years we have intercepted and stopped the departure of hundreds of these underage OFWs so our officers at the airports are always vigilant and on the lookout for these passengers,” the BI Chief added.
It was gathered that in the past, recruiters of underage OFWs would falsify their victims’ birth dates by applying for late registration or submitting fake birth certificates from the local civil registrar.
“It appears that these illegal recruiters have found another way to circumvent the law by letting their victims assume the identities of others in order to falsify their age.
He warned that those who connive with trafficking syndicates and ‘lend’ their identities are equally liable by law.
The victim was turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for filing of charges against the recruiter.