Immigration authorities intercepted eight suspected human trafficking victims who tried to leave the Ninoy Aquino International Airport posing as tourists.
BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were intercepted at the NAIA terminal 3 before they could board their Emirates Airways flight to Dubai en route to their final destination in northern Cyprus.
Medina said the passengers, who included six men and two women, all admitted during questioning that their actual purpose in going abroad is to work without proper documentation. Their names were not divulged as forbidden in anti-trafficking laws.
“Six of them were allegedly hired as cleaners in a restaurant while one of them was recruited as a cook,” he said.
Medina said that the trafficking attempt was foiled when one of the female victims was referred for secondary inspection to the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit by the Immigration officer who doubted her purpose of travel.
The passenger initially claimed said she and her companions were traveling to Cyprus for a vacation, but her answers to questions during the interview were inconsistent.
“When she was interviewed, she admitted that she is traveling to Cyprus to work, and she voluntarily showed a message exchange between her and her recruiter discussing the amount that each of them would pay the syndicate for processing and facilitating their illegal travel to Cyprus,” Medina said.
The passenger likewise confessed that they only met each other at a house in Manila where they were briefed before going to the airport. All eight were later intercepted upon interview by Immigration.
“This incident shows that illegal recruiters and human traffickers would go to great lengths to fool our kababayans, and would entice them to pretend as tourists, especially during the holiday season,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said.
“Let this serve as a warning to these syndicates, your illegal ways will not pass,” he said.
The eight were subsequently turned over the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance and further investigation.