Thousands of Filipinos barred from travel amid anti-trafficking crackdown


More than 28,000 Filipinos were barred from leaving the country between January and October as part of a clampdown on human trafficking.

According to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina, a total of 28,467 passengers were not allowed to board their flights during the first 10 months of the year. In all cases they were found to be “non-compliant with requirements for -bound passengers”.

“What we are trying to prevent here is allowing the departure of victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment. We are considered the last line of defence inside our country to protect our people,” the BI official said in a statement yesterday (Wednesday, December 19).

BI records show that of the total number of people barred from travelling, 23,239 were stopped at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The remainder were stopped at Mactan, Clark, Iloilo, Kalibo and Davao.

Medina also said that one of the notable interceptions of the year were the 151 teenage girls bound for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to work as maids. In this case, the age of the girls had been falsified.

Then, in August, four Filipinas were rescued at Clark after a German attempted to facilitate their travel by instructing them to present themselves as volunteers, when their true intent was to work as caregivers in Germany. As we reported, 72-year-old Herbert Joseph Vogt, a college lecturer, was arrested at the airport.

Another notable case was the rescue of six women last month who were travelling under false documents to work as ‘entertainers’ in South Korean nightclubs.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente has commended BI port personnel for their vigilance. “There will be no letup in our campaign so long as there are syndicates who continue to unlawfully send abroad our countrymen who are prone to and exploitation in foreign lands,” he said.

He also reiterated that they would not relax their guard this holiday season as “illegal recruiters and human traffickers might take advantage of the influx of people in our airports”.

“The fight against human trafficking and illegal recruitment is a continuous joint effort of immigration and other government agencies. Modern-day slavery has no place in this world, and we will make sure that our kababayans [countrymen] are protected from this threat,” he said.

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