Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente warned anew the aspiring overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) not to fall prey to trafficking and illegal recruitment schemes.
According to Morente, human trafficking remained a “real threat” to Filipinos as illegal recruiters continue to prey on vulnerable citizens.
“Human trafficking is considered as modern day slavery. It is real, and it has hit many Filipino families. These recruiters would make their victims agree to unacceptable working conditions, promising a better life by working abroad illegally.
Many victims end up overworked, underpaid and sometimes not even paid at all,” Morente stressed.
Working illegally abroad, Morente said, also adds to the vulnerability of the victim to abuse.
In 2021, the BI foiled a total of 688 attempts of human trafficking and illegal recruitment in the country’s international ports. In the same year, the BI stopped the departure of 13,680 passengers with improper documentation.
Victims would often be given fake documents or be trained to provide fake statements to work illegally abroad, or to depart for countries imposing travel bans.
The warning, Morente said, was aimed at raising awareness on the dangers of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.
Morente underscored the BI’s role as part of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
“We remind ourselves of our duty as the last line of defense in protecting our kababayan from unscrupulous recruiters,” Morente said.
He said that the agency will remain committed in their fight against trafficking, and cited the country’s retention of its Tier 1 status in the United States Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Index.
A Tier 1 status in the TIP index shows that the country demonstrates appreciable progress each year in combating trafficking.