BI rescues 7 human trafficking victims at NAIA

February 11, 2023 Jun I. Legaspi 151 views

BUREAU of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) intercepted seven suspected human trafficking victims bound for Iraq who tried to leave the country in the guise of being tourists.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said the passengers were intercepted at the NAIA 1 terminal last Jan. 16 before they could board a Scoot Airways flight to Singapore.

Tansingco said the passengers, all women, later admitted during questioning that their final destination was Erbil, Iraq, where they were hired to work as janitresses with a monthly payment of US$1,000.

The government has imposed a long-standing ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Iraq, which has continued to be plagued by violence.

Tansingco said the passengers were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation and filing charges against their recruiters.

Their names were not divulged as the law prohibits the public disclosure of human trafficking victims.

According to the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU), which interviewed the victims, the latter initially claimed that their clandestine trip to Iraq was arranged by a travel agency based in Manila.

They said that upon arrival in Singapore, they were supposed to board their connecting flights to Dubai or Qatar en route to their final destination in Iraq.

The victims reportedly bared that some 30 Filipinos were already recruited by the syndicate to work in Iraq for the same employer. BY JUN I. LEGASPI & HECTOR LAWAS