Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Norman Tansingco has ordered the immediate investigation of reports of Filipino trafficking victims having been rescued in Myanmar.
The order stemmed from the statement of a female victim presented by Senator Risa Hontiveros during her privileged speech last November 21.
According to the victim, she and 11 others were recruited via Facebook, where they saw advertisements on several job openings for call center agent and encoder positions for Thailand.
The victim narrated that they were forcibly transported to Myanmar to allegedly work as scammers and were trained to scam Western men to invest in fraudulent cryptocurrency accounts.
“We will be coordinating with the Office of Senator interested to find out how these victims were able to depart despite stringent immigration assessment,” he added.
It may be recalled that upon hi assumption as Commissioner, Tansingco conducted an inspection at the BI’s warned personnel that he will not tolerate any act of corruption.
“I will not tolerate involvement in issues like pastillas. corruption,” he warned.
Tansingco said anti-corruption remains the highest priority during his administration. He warned that administrative and criminal cases will be filed against any personnel proven to be involved in corrupt acts.
As early as October, Tansingco issued an advisory to immigration inspectors to conduct strict assessment of travelers departing for neighboring countries after receiving reports that Filipinos were being illegally recruited and transported to a third country to work as call center agents for a company that operates online scams such as catfishing.
“These human traffickers try to circumv nt immigration assessment by adjusting their modus operandi,” Tansingco said
“Oftentimes, syndicates provide fake employment documents and statements to their victims,” he added.
In 2021, despite the pandemic, the BI stopped the departure of 13,860 passengers for having improper documentation, and foiled 688 attempts of human trafficking and illegal recruitment at the country.
Tansingco said they are closely coordinating with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), as well as the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) to update policies on trafficking and illegal recruitment.
He also warned prospective OFWs not to accept offers online and instead apply legally through the DMW.