Hontiveros laments BI officials still involved in human trafficking of Pinoys

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday said that Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials, this time, at the Clark International Airport are allegedly involved in the outbound human trafficking of Filipinos to Cambodia.

Hontiveros said the information came from one of the Filipinos trafficked to Cambodia to work as a crypto currency scammer for a Chinese mafia.

The victim, alias “Miles,” recounted that recruiters would reportedly pay around P75,000 to P100,000 to immigration officers for every Filipino that they would allow to exit without question.

“Kung totoo, nakakalungkot na mismong mga empleyado ng gobyerno ang siyang nagpapahamak sa kapwa nating Pilipino (If it's true, it's sad that government employees are the ones who harm our fellow Filipinos),” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Our Senate inquiries on the ‘pastillas’ scam resulted in the indictment of a number of BI officials, but it seems there are still groups or individuals within the agency who will stop at nothing to make an easy buck,” Hontiveros said.

The so-called “pastillas scam” refers to the scheme where BI officials accepted bribe money in exchange for the illegal entry of foreign nationals, mostly working for the Chinese-operated Philippine Offshore and Gaming Operators (POGOs).

Last month, Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, also investigated the alleged trafficking of victims who were duped to work in a crypto currency scam in Myanmar.

Similar to the Filipino victims in Myanmar, Miles shared that some of her fellow victims were instructed to exit the country from Clark, Pampanga, as the agent who recruited them had contacts with immigration officers in that airport.

“Sa Clark, may escort po sila na immigration. May agent po doon na nagbubook ng ticket at may contact na po doon mismo sa immigration officer. Hindi na iniinterview, wala na rin documents na hinihingi basta tinatatakan na lang po diretso ... Ituturo kung anong booth ka pipila, iga-guide ka nila (In Clark, they have an immigration escort. There is an agent there who books the ticket and there is a contact right there with the immigration officer. No more interviews, no more documents required, just stamped straight away... They will show you what booth you are in, they will guide you),” Miles revealed.

The senator said she will invite BI officials and airport terminal managers in the next hearing of the committee.

“It is the duty of airport and immigration officers to be the last line of defense against the trafficking of our citizens,” she said.

“Our Senate committee will spare no effort to ensure that accountability be established and justice served,” the lawmaker added.