The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has thwarted an attempt by four suspected human trafficking victims to leave the country at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said the women, who were in their late 20s to 40s, attempted to board a Philippine Airlines flight to Bangkok, Thailand last week when they were intercepted by immigration officers at the departure area of the MCIA.
Medina said that upon arriving in Bangkok, they were supposed to take a connecting flight to Dubai where they were hired to work as domestic helpers.
“It appears that the novel coronavirus outbreak has not deterred these syndicates from continuing with their nefarious activities,” Medina added.
The incident occurred barely two days after BI officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) disallowed the departure of seven Filipinas who confessed they were recruited to work as maids in the emirate.
Ma. Asuncion Palma-Gil, who heads the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) at the MCIA, said the four women initially claimed that they are mere tourists who would be going to Thailand for a vacation.
“When asked, they could not detail their travel itinerary. But what further aroused our suspicion was the inconsistencies in their statements and their inability to prove their financial capacity to travel abroad,” Palma-Gil said.
The passengers later admitted that they were going to Dubai to work as domestic helpers and that they were directly recruited by a certain “Ms. Jessa” from a Dubai-based recruitment agency who gave them instructions on what to do when undergoing immigration departure inspection.
The four were referred to the MCIA Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance in filing a case against their recruiters. (Jun Ramirez)