By Jun Ramirez
Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers have rescued nine alleged human trafficking victims at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) disguising themselves as tourists going to South Korea.
In a report to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, BI Port Operations chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were about to board an Air Asia flight to Taipei last Thursday when they were intercepted by members of the travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU).
Medina said they admitted that South Korea was their final destination to work as orange pickers in a plantation in Jeju Island.
He said the passengers initially claimed they were traveling as tourists to watch a Nanta acrobatic exhibition show, but could not say what the presentation was all about.
“When pressed on the actual purpose of their trip, they confessed that they were hired to work in an orange farm with monthly pay of P65,000,” Medina added.
The victims, whose identities were not divulged due to a ban in the anti-trafficking law, were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.
NAIA Terminal 3 TCEU chief Glen Comia observed that the apprehension occurred barely three days after immigration officers also intercepted eight trafficking victims bound for Cyprus.
Comia believed that only one syndicate was resposible for sending victims to various countries in Europe and Asia.
As in the case of the Cyprus-bound travelers, the Korea-bound passengers also did not know each other and related that they only met at an office in Ermita where they were briefed by their recruiters before their trip.
The victims, who came from the provinces, also recounted in writing the ordeal they suffered, losing their life savings to pay the recruiters.