2 Immigration Officers, Recruiters Nabbed Over Alleged Trafficking of Women to Malaysia, Lebanon

Two officers of the Bureau of Immigration were arrested in Zamboanga over allegedly allowing 12 Filipinas to work illegally in Sabah and Lebanon without proper documents.

Arrested were immigration personnel identified as Joey Paulino Escobar and Fidel Mendoza, assigned at its Zamboanga office, Lebanese national Pascal Sreih, and wife Vilma Rosa Matangay, according to a report by GMA News.

In a statement, the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) said simultaneous operations in Caloocan City, San Jose del Monte in Bulacan, and Zamboanga City — areas where the couple’s illegal operation were allegedly carried out — led to the arrest of the suspects.

A video footage provided by ABS-CBN News showed the women wearing pink ponytail on their arms, allegedly an indicator for Immigration officers to stamp their passports.

According to victims rescued during Monday operations, Sreih and Matangay recruited them as domestic workers for Lebanon. They were issued with tourist visas although Sreih demanded they surrender their passports before they leave Zamboanga City to Sabah via a passenger cargo vessel.

An initial investigation showed the recruits would fly to Zamboanga City and wait for their travel documents while staying at a hotel. They were instructed to buy return tickets to a vessel wearing the pink ponytails on their wrist.

The suspects face charges of violation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and large-scale illegal recruitment.

Photo credit: skyscrapercity.com