The Bureau of Immigration has offloaded 34 women at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) bound for Saudi Arabia as household service workers who allegedly were victims of human trafficking.
The victims were mostly in their 20s and 30s. They were not allowed to depart because of the irregularities in their travel documents, officials said.
“Our primary inspectors initially encountered two of their companions who happen to have been previously barred from leaving on suspicion of being trafficking victims,” Immigration port operations chief Grifton Medina Medina said.
“It was while they were undergoing secondary inspection that our men uncovered that they were traveling as a group with 32 other victims,” he added.
This is considered to be one of the biggest human trafficking interceptions in recent years, according to Ma. Timotea Barizo, BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) chief.
“The job descriptions on the visas of the victims indicated that they were hired as household service workers but their overseas employment certificates (OECs) and job contracts state that they were recruited as cleaners in companies. Discrepancies like this are not allowed, especially when the actual work is in households rather than in companies, which puts our workers in greater risk,” Barizo said.
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) representatives at the airport also confirmed the irregularities in their OECs. The women were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.
“Our officers are working day and night to ensure that our kababayan will not be victimized by these human traffickers and illegal recruiters. I wish to remind aspiring OFWs not to fall prey to these unscrupulous individuals,” BI Chief Jaime Morente said.