Immigration bureau warns vs illegal recruitment amid COVID-19 pandemic

(Eagle News) — The Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday, December 16, reiterated its warning against illegal recruitment after it intercepted three women who had tried to leave the country by posing as seafarers.

In a statement, Immigration commissioner Jaime Morente said based on a report from Immigration intelligence chief Fortunato Manahan Jr., the passengers were intercepted at the Clark International Airport before they could board an afternoon flight to Dubai.

According to Manahan, the women presented documents purporting they were employed as seafarers who were about to join their vessel at the port of the United Arab Emirates.

Manahan said that while the women presented overseas employment certificates (OECs), seaman’s books, employment contracts, letters of guarantee from an alleged employer, and an entry visa to Dubai, upon verification the visa was found to be invalid.

“When asked about details on how they acquired their documents, they gave highly inconsistent statements, which prompted the immigration officers to investigate further,” Manahan said, adding that  when interviewed, the women could not give the name of the vessel where they were supposedly hired.

“Examination of their documents also showed that the ship they were supposed was docked in Labuan, Malaysia at the time of their departure,” he said.

Morente urged immigration personnel to be extra vigilant  as  human traffickers may take advantage of the pandemic to get their victims out of the country.

“These illegal recruiters and human traffickers are taking advantage of the need of some of our kababayan seeking jobs during this pandemic,” Morente said.

He also advised the public “not to fall prey to such schemes, and to always check and double check their documents to ensure that everything is legal.”

The three women have been turned over to the CIA Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking so they can be assisted in the filing of charges against their recruiters.