BI on alert against trafficking of minors

Published March 18, 2019, 12:20 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Jun Ramirez 

Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have been ordered to carefully screen departing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the wake of reports that trafficking syndicates are again recruiting minors to work abroad.

MB FILE - Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente (Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN)
Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente instructed BI port operations chief, Grifton Medina, to alert BI personnel manning immigration booths at the airport to conduct strict screening of departing OFWs to make sure they are of legal age and eligible for overseas deployment.

“In cases of doubt, passengers should be referred to the travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) for secondary inspection,” Morente said.

The thorough screening was ordered after a 21-year-old Filipina household worker was intercepted on Wednesday by BI officers at the NAIA terminal 1 before she could board a Philippine Airlines flight to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

According to Glenn Ford Comia, BI TCEU NAIA 1 head supervisor, the passenger admitted during questioning that her real age is 21, not 25 as indicated in her passport.

Comia said she only learned that her date of birth was altered when she received her travel documents from her recruiter on the day of her flight.

It can be recalled that last year, the BI intercepted at the NAIA more than a hundred underage OFWs, many of them minors. All of them had passports with falsified birthdates, although they had valid overseas employment permits, working visas, and job contracts.

“This syndicate has stopped deploying underage women, following last year’s numerous interceptions,” said Morente.

“However, with this recent interception, it seems that this scheme is making a comeback,” he added.