MANILA Immigration officers uncovered a new scheme by human traffickers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) with the recent interception of two Filipino men, who attempted to leave the country by pretending to be seafarers.
BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said Wednesday the passengers, whose names were not divulged as the law prohibits it, were intercepted at the departure area of the NAIA Terminal 3 last July 2 for presenting fake overseas employment certificates (OECs), seaman's books, and letters of guarantee from their alleged shipping agent.
He added that both men were about to board a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong en route to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
During questioning both of them admitted that they paid their handler PHP5,000 each for the spurious documents that they presented, Medina said in a statement.
The recruiters may have believed that we will be lenient in screening the papers of departing seamen and that they (recruiters) are mistaken because we screen all departing passengers thoroughly to prevent Filipinos from being victimized by these schemes, he added.
On the other hand, BI travel control and enforcement unit head Timotea Barizo stressed that immigration officers thoroughly examine the papers of all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), including seafarers, before they are cleared for departure.
She explained that in the case of the two intercepted passengers, the scheme was immediately uncovered when the immigration officer who processed them found that their OECs are not registered or encoded in the database of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Faking these OECs is an exercise in futility because our systems are now integrated with the POEA, one click and we'll be able to see if an OFW is properly documented, the BI official said.
Barizo noted that POEA personnel are likewise stationed at the airports to conduct secondary verifications should they encounter anything suspicious.
The two men were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency