By Jun Ramirez
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Thursday it rescued five more human trafficking victims at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) and nabbed a female courier of a syndicate responsible for recruiting and facilitating the departure of undocumented overseas workers at the said port.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said the five passengers were intercepted last Oct. 27 and Oct. 30 as they were about to board their flights for Hongkong and Macau.
He also disclosed that the suspected syndicate courier was intercepted Oct. 30 when three of the five victims pointed to the woman as the one who escorted them to the airport and briefed them prior to their flight.
BI MCIA travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) head Ma. Asuncion Palma-Gil said the courier was turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation which filed a criminal complaint for human trafficking and illegal recruitment against her before the Cebu City prosecutor’s office.
Palma-Gil declined to reveal the suspect’s name as well as those of the five victims because the anti-trafficking law forbids it.
Palma-Gil said the five passengers were intercepted nearly two weeks after 17 suspected trafficking victims were stopped from leaving the Mactan airport while attempting to leave for Hongkong and Macau.
As in the case of their last interception, she said the five victims were also bound for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where they were hired to work as household service workers and waitresses.
“We suspect that all these victims were recruited by the same syndicate and that the female suspect we arrested is involved in this trafficking scheme,” Palma-Gil added.
Initial investigation revealed that the passengers disguised as tourists were supposed to be first flown to Hongkong and Macau where they would later board their connecting flights to Dubai.
They admitted during investigation that they have UAE working visas in their possession which were processed and provided to them by their recruiters.