By Jun Ramirez
Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente has expressed serious concern over the resurgent activities of syndicates sending minors and underage Filipinas to work as household workers abroad.
Morente said he is dismayed over reports that syndicates are again recruiting young women and providing them with fraudulently-acquired documents to work abroad.
The BI chief issued the statement after Labor Undersecretary Jacinto Paras urged concerned government agencies to work together in fighting the menace, citing the case of a certain “Marie” who was able to secure genuine travel and work papers despite the fact that she was only 17 years of age.
Marie was repatriated after working in Saudi Arabia for two years.
“This is a cause for concern for the bureau. Intercepting them is quite a challenge, as these victims are given original passports and work clearances to make it appear that they are older,” Morente said.
He said last year the BI intercepted a total of 181 minor and underage OFW.
“Trends show that many of them were recruited from Mindanao to work in Middle Eastern countries,” he added.
Morente recalled that last Friday immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) intercepted another Filipina bound for Saudi Arabia holding a valid passport, overseas employment certificate, and a valid working visa.
The victim later claimed that her age was below 23 years to legally work abroad.
BI port operations chief Grifton Medina said the victim had been instructed by her recruiter not to give her real age to be allowed to fly out of the country.
The victim was turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation and assistance.
Morente said the BI, as a member of the IACAT, has been very active in the fight against trafficking.(