Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) recently barred from leaving the country seven undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who attempted to depart in the guise of being tourists. BI Port Operations Acting Chief, Grifton Medina said the passengers were deferred to depart after being intercepted on separate occasions last week at NAIA Terminal 2 and 3.
“They were not allowed to leave after they admitted under questioning that they are not tourists but are actually going abroad to work,” He said. He reiterated his warning to those who intend to work overseas not to evade the travel requirements for OFWs by pretending to be tourists as “there is very little chance you will not be caught by our vigilant immigration officers at the airports.” Reports submitted by the Travel Control and Enforcememt Unit (TCEU) Head, Ma. Timotea C. Barizo to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente disclosed that two of the passengers were intercepted at NAIA 2 last Sept. 14 as they were about to depart for Hongkong. They were barred to depart after they were noticed traveling with a woman who is in the bureau’s alert list of suspected human traffickers facilitating the deployment of undocumented workers abroad. On Sept. 15, four Malta-bound “tourist workers” were apprehended at the NAIA 2 departure area after they presented questionable documents regarding the purpose of their travel. They initially claimed they were attending a symposium but later admitted during interview that they were hired to work as maids in Malta. They further alleged that each of them gave P500,000 to their handler in return for processing their travel documents and visas. Barizo also reported the interception last Sept. 17 of a Filipina bound for Istanbul, Turkey who was caught in possession of a fraudulent overseas employment certificate. All seven passengers were turned over to the NAIA Task Force Against Trafficking in Person (NAIATFAT) for further investigation.