Over 28,000 Filipino Passengers Barred From Leaving Country

The Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration has managed to stop more than 28,000 passengers from flying overseas amid the intensified drive against human trafficking by the Philippine government.

BI Port Operations Divisions chief Grifton Medina said a total of 28,467 travelers were barred from leaving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and from the other international airports in Clark, Mactan, Davao, Kalibo, and Iloilo from January to October 2018.

Of the total number of offloaded passengers, 23,239 of them were stopped at the NAIA, citing that they were refused boarding because they were “non-compliant with requirements for overseas-bound passengers.”

The requirements, Medina said, were set under the Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International-Bound Passengers set by the Department of Justice and implemented by the Bureau of Immigration over the years in its efforts to curb illegal migration and human trafficking through the country’s main ports of exit.

“What we are trying to prevent the possible victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment,” Medina said. “We are considered the last line of defense inside our country to protect our people.”

Notable interceptions include 151 minors and underaged females bound for Saudi Arabia as overseas Filipino workers for misdeclaring their ages. In August, four Filipinos were rescued from an alleged illegal recruiter in Clark after a German national attempted to facilitate their travel by reportedly instructing them to present themselves as volunteers, when their true intent was to work as caregivers in Germany. A few months later, six female passengers were prevented from leaving the country after they were discovered to have presented fake documents to immigration officers. They were reportedly recruited as nightclub entertainers in Korea.

“There will be no letup in our campaign so long as there are syndicates who continue to unlawfully send abroad our countrymen who are prone to abuse and exploitation in foreign lands,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said. He added that through the efforts of BI and other partner agencies, the Philippines retained its Tier 1 rating in the US State Department’s 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, following their intensified campaign against human trafficking.

Tips: How to avoid offloading at NAIA

The premier TIP rating was retained by the Philippines for the third straight year. It is one of 39 countries among 186 surveyed that continued to “demonstrate serious and sustained efforts to fight trafficking.” A Tier 1 rating is given only to those who fully comply with the minimum standards of the US Trafficking Victim Protection Act.

“You will be surprised at the stories we encounter at the airports,” said Morente. “Many fall prey to illegal recruiters who sweet-talk their victims to pretending that they are tourists to circumvent the law. Sasabihin nila, it’s a risk, lakasan lang ng loob. I appeal to our kababayans not to be fooled by these unscrupulous individuals.”

Anticipating that illegal recruiters might ramp up their efforts and take advantage of influx of people in airports, Morente Morente reiterated that they will not relax their guard this holiday season.

“The fight against human trafficking and illegal recruitment is a continuous joint effort of immigration and other government agencies,” he said.

“Modern-day slavery has no place in this world, and we will make sure that our kababayans are protected from this threat,” he added.