Clark, PAMPANGA—Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers reported the interception of several trafficking victims bound for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that were given fake itineraries by their recruiters.
In reports to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) in Manila and Pampanga bared an emerging modus of Filipino female workers presenting work documents bound for Maldives, but are actually bound for the UAE.
According to Morente, this is another instance of what they call a third-country recruitment, wherein overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are being sent to work in a country, but are later illegally transported to another country to work there.
The same modus, said Morente, was usually seen in victims rescued from war-torn countries such as Syria.
TCEU Officers from NAIA Terminal 3 reported the interception of two female OFWs last May 4. The victims, age 26 and 33, presented valid overseas employment certificates (OECs), work visas for Maldives, employment contracts, and itineraries bound for Maldives.
However, upon verification with online systems, it was discovered that both victims were in possession of valid tourist visas for the UAE. Both of the victims admitted that they received their documents only prior to departure, and one of the victims stated that she was instructed by their recruiter to conceal her UAE visa. She admitted that they applied to work as domestic helpers, but were given documents to work as sales assistants in Maldives.
TCEU Officers from Clark International Airport, on the other hand, intercepted another two female victims age 34 and 36 on Sunday. Both presented documents to work in Maldives as an attendant and a receptionist, but were found to be in possession of visas for the UAE.
One of the victims admitted that she was promised work as a cleaner in UAE, and that she paid P37,000 to her recruiter for the processing of her travel documents. Her companion, who was repatriated from the UAE in 2020, admitted to be heading back to work as a household service worker, and stated that she paid P50,000 to her recruiter.
“This scheme victimizes our kababayan and tricks them into accepting offers below standard rates,” said Morente. “When they get to the third country, many end up being abused but do not report for fear of being deported,” he stated.
Morente then reiterated his warning to aspiring OFWs not to fall prey to such schemes being done by unscrupulous agencies.
“When we intercept such cases, we furnish the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration a copy of our report, and we are very thankful that they have been very active in suspending or cancelling the accreditation of the erring agency,” said Morente. “Stopping these illegal schemes really needs the cooperation of different government agencies that must work hand in hand to eliminate this societal ill,” he added.
The victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance and filing of appropriate charges against their recruiters.