The Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday expressed alarm over the rise in number of overseas Filipino workers attempting to leave the country using fake overseas employment certificates.
“I am alarmed by the reports from our Port Operations Division about this modus. It appears that these syndicates are using every trick they can think of to spirit their victims out of the country. But they will not succeed,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.
Morente directed BI POD Chief Grifton Medina to alert all personnel manning immigration departure counters on the proliferation of fake OECs used by undocumented OFWs victimized by human trafficking syndicates and illegal recruiters.
Medina said that he already instructed members of bureau’s travel control and enforcement unit to assign additional personnel in-charge of pre-screening the papers of departing OFWs.
“Those victims with questionable documents will be immediately subjected to secondary inspection. If their papers are found to be indeed spurious, they will not be allowed to depart and will be turned over to the IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking) for investigation and assistance,” Medina said.
“Authorities must get to the bottom of this problem to catch recruiters that use this scheme,” he said.
BI-TCEU Chief Erwin Ortañez reported that last week alone a total of 17 OFWs with fake OECs were apprehended at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at the height of the Lenten peak travel season.
It was learned that 10 of the 17 passengers were intercepted at the NAIA 1 while the rest were stopped at the NAIA 2. Most were bound for Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.
He said the victims carried fake Philippine Overseas Employment Administration clearances and pre-departure orientation seminar certificates.
“They mistakenly thought we will lower our guard due to the large number of travelers during the Lenten break. But we were on full alert. Their scheme did not work,” said Ortañez.
Ortañez said that despite fake OECs and POEA clearances, they had existing working visas and job contracts provided by their recruiters.