'Religious pastor' who recruited 'pilgrims' set for probe on human trafficking -- BI

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe a "religious pastor" who reportedly recruited Flipinos as "pilgrims" for fees ranging from  P75,000 to P150,000 per recruit.

Eventually, the recruited "pilgrims" never returned to the Philippines and are now presumarly employed or stranded in countries abroad, the BI said. 

The NBI probe was asked by BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco after immigration officers intercepted six Filipinos at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last Thursday, Nov. 9, before they could board their flight to Amman, Jordan.

The cases of the six Filipinos, who were not identified by BI, have been forwarded to the Inter-Agency Council Against Tafficking (IACAT).  NBI is a member of IACAT. The name of the "religious pastor" was neither identified by BI. 

Tansingco said the six intercepted Filipinos claimed they would travel together for a prilgrimage "but they were unaware of their travel intinerary."

"They even do not know each other," he said.

He also said that "two passengers were supposed to join a group of 14 ‘pilgrims’ who left the country last Sept. 27.”

“Ten of the 14 'pilgrims' have not returned and are now presumably working abroad,” he said. 

He added that those intercepted last Nov. 9 admitted that "an alleged male pastor arranged their trip and that they all paid him large sums of money ranging from P75,000 to P150,000 each.”

“The said pastor was the same person who was pinpointed by the ‘pilgrims’ who left last September as the one who arranged their purported pilgrimage,” he also said.