Immigration officers, recruiters nabbed for human trafficking
MANILA, Philippines – Two female immigration officers were detained by authorities in the latest anti-human trafficking operation at Kalibo International Airport (KIA) on Thursday, January 19.
Police did not identify the immigration officers pending an investigation into their alleged involvement in human trafficking.
The airport immigration officers were implicated after one of the victims told the police that they were not subjected to secondary inspection required for departing passengers or travellers and were cleared to depart to Malaysia.
Police also apprehended 3 illegal recruiters and their alleged cohorts – a tricycle driver from Bakhaw Sur, Kalibo and an airport porter from Mabilo, New Washington who facilitated the entry of victims into Kalibo airport.
The 4 women were bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at around 3:00 pm on Thursday when authorities intercepted them at the pre-departure area of Kalibo International Airport. The operation was conducted by elements from the Kalibo municipal station, in coordination with the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and the airport police.
Provincial Assistant Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales said the victims, who are residents of Isabela and Pampanga provinces, complained to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that they were recruited without the necessary papers to work abroad in Lebanon as domestic helpers. Police further noted the victims also had no employment contracts or permits with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
"May text messages sa mga victims galing sa recruiter nila na doon sila pumila sa mga nasabing immigration officers. Ang kanilang mga passports ay kaagad na na-stamp ng immigration officers at wala halos na interview o mga tanong sa mga biktima ng human trafficking," Gonzales said.
(There were text messages from their recruiter telling them to line up at specific immigration officers. Their passports were quickly stamped by the immigration officers with next to no interview or questions asked from the victims of human trafficking.)
Police said the victims attempted to depart using Kalibo International Airport as their exit point by presenting questionable documents.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has yet to issue a statement regarding the involvement of its two immigration officers assigned in Kalibo International Airport.
One of the alleged illegal recruiters, however, denied allegations he was the mastermind behind the recruitment of women to work abroad illegally.
"Hindi ko naman kilala ang mga biktima, kahit itong mga porter at tricycle driver, kahit makaharap ko pa sila. Ngayon lang kami nagkita ng mga taong ito. Pumunta ako sa Kalibo, sa piyesta at sa Boracay, dahil mahilig ako sa sabong, Napagkamalan lang ako," he said at the police station.
(I don't know these victims, nor would I know the porter and tricycle driver, even if I was put in front of them. I've only met these people now. I went to Kalibo, for the fiesta, and to Boracay, because I'm a cockfighting fan. This is mistaken identity.)
The immigration officers, illegal recruiters, and their cohorts were temporarily detained at the Kalibo police station pending appropriate filing of charges for violations of Republic Act No. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. – Rappler.com