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PASAY, Philippines—Two more suspected human trafficking victims were stopped from leaving by immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for falsifying their birthdates. Bureau of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the two female passengers, who presented valid overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) documents, were intercepted last Wednesday at the NAIA terminal 1 by members of the Bureau’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU). According to reports, the duo attempted to depart via a Scoot Airways flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia allegedly to work as household service workers when they were flagged for secondary inspection by frontline immigration officers. Medina said the officers doubted the ages of the passengers as indicated in the passports due to inconsistencies in their answers and their demeanor.

 

 

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INTRAMUROS, Manila—The management of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) exhorted its officers assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other ports to keep up their vigilance after it was announced that the Philippines retained its Tier 1 ranking in the US government’s human trafficking index for 2019. “I commend and congratulate the men and women of our port operations division (POD) who guard our ports day and night to ensure that countrymen are saved from the scourge of human trafficking,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement. The Philippines retained for the fourth consecutive year its Tier 1 ranking in the recently-released 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report of the US Department of State. Morente said that the rating is “a tribute to your hard work and dedication to your duties as gatekeepers of our country.”

Morente urged Bureau of Immigration personnel in the different ports to “remain vigilant as there is no sign that these human trafficking syndicates who prey on the poor, including minors, will stop their nefarious activities.” Bureau of Immigration Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina, for his part, said “the latest TIP report will surely inspire and motivate POD personnel manning the ports to sustain their efforts in fighting human trafficking.” Medina said there will be no letup in the bureau’s anti-trafficking campaign even as he reported that more than 10,000 travelers were stopped from leaving the country from January to April this year, mostly for having incomplete travel papers and questionable purpose in going abroad. A Tier 1 rating means that the Philippine government fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and has continually demonstrated serious and sustained efforts to combat human trafficking. The Philippines leads the ranking in East Asia and the Pacific, sharing the Tier 1 status with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Other countries mentioned in the report who were given a Tier 1 rating are Australia, Canada, France, Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain. "The Tier 1 status was given to only 33 countries all over the world," said Morente. "We are proud to be a big part in the government's efforts against human trafficking. We will not stop protecting our fellow Filipinos from this threat. The result of this report is a reminder why we do what we do," he added. The report also acknowledged the BI’s accomplishment in deferring the departure of 24,753 passengers due to incomplete or missing travel documents or misrepresentation, referring for investigation 286 potential cases of suspected trafficking, identifying 286 potential victims of trafficking, and arresting nine suspected traffickers. BI stopped 199 foreign registered sex offenders from entering the country last year, the same

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PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced that it has deported 294 Chinese nationals in two chartered flights earlier today at the Puerto Princesa International Airport. Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, in a statement, announced the deportation of said aliens who were part of the 329 arrested in 8 different hotels and establishments last September 16 through an operation of Bureau of Immigration Intelligence agents with the assistance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command (WESCOM).

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Maritime safety administration (MARSAD). Personnel of CGS Masbate are now stringent in inspecting passengers, baggage, cargoes and vessel sections during boarding and embarkation as part of the mandatory pre departure inspection (MPDI).

 

Maritime search and rescue (MARSAR). CG personnel from SOG, FS bicol, CGS Masbate, CG detachment bapor, and LTSG Ronilo B Alvarez PCGA provided assistance to passengers of MB maeann Ashley which encountered engine trouble in waters off SitioKag-pandan, Moreal, Masbate. The team rescued a total of fourteen (14) passengers.

 

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CEBU, Philippines—Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) rescued 17 suspected human trafficking victims who were illegally recruited to work as household service workers (HSW) in the Middle East. Bureau of Immigration Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the female passengers disguised as tourists were intercepted on Oct. 16 and 17 before they could board their flights to Hongkong and Macau en route to their final destinations in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

“It appears that these victims were recruited by a syndicate which separately booked them on several flights in order to mislead our immigration officers on the purpose of their trip. And that is to work abroad without documentation,” Medina said. He surmised that due to the Bureau of Immigration’s intensified campaign against trafficking, the syndicates are attempting to shift their operations to other exit ports. “They are, however, wrong in assuming that we are less vigilant in guarding our ports outside Manila,” Medina stressed, adding that Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente has already alerted Bureau of Immigration personnel manning the different reports to be extra vigilant following the incident at Mactan airport. Ma. Asuncion Palma-Gil, BI-MCIA’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) head, disclosed that the 17 passengers were offloaded from five different flights and that 13 of them were hired to work in Dubai while the other four were bound for Qatar. “They all admitted having UAE and Qatari visas in their possession and that they were recruited by individuals they only met via Facebook or through their people they know currently working in Dubai and Doha,” Palma-Gil said. She added that the passengers were not familiar with their travel itinerary and what they would do upon arriving in Hongkong and Macau as they would only rely on instructions to be given to them by their handlers. “This is a clear case of human trafficking wherein victims who are jobless and have no visible means of support are sent abroad and put in harm’s way to satisfy the cravings for profit of unscrupulous recruiters,” Palma-Gil added. The women were later turned over to the MCIA Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.

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MANILA, Philippines — Bureau of Immigration agents announced the arrest of a Korean national wanted by authorities in Seoul for swindling two compatriots of more than 100 million won. Bureau of Immigration intelligence officer Bobby Raquepo, chief of the bureau’s fugitive search unit (FSU), identified the captured Korean as 49-year-old Kim Sang Wook, who was arrested on Tuesday in Malvar Street, Malate, Manila.

The FSU operatives were armed with a mission order from Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente who issued the same at the request of the Korean embassy in Manila. Raquepo said that a Korean court had issued an arrest warrant against Kim who is also the subject of a red notice from Interpol. He further disclosed that Kim was a teacher wanted for swindling his victims of 100 million won. Kim was reportedly found defrauding his victims six times by deceiving and promising his victims’ sons that they could be employed as teachers. Investigations revealed that Kim fled to Manila on February 2015 under a tourist visa and has not left the country since then. According to Raquepo, Kim will be deported, considering he is an undesirable alien for being a fugitive from justice. Morente then warned foreign fraudsters and fugitives staying in the country, “We are serious in our drive against undesirable aliens. We will hunt each one down, deport them, and bar them from re-entering the country,” he said. Kim is temporarily detained at the Bureau of Immigration Warden Facility (BIWF) pending deportation proceedings. Meanwhile, Morente lauded the improvements made at the BIWF. BIWF Chief Remiecar Caguiron detailed that the BIWF has undergone a total revamp under her administration. "Apart from improving the quality of our personnel through seminars on jail management and human rights, we have made numerous improvements in the facilities of the detention center," said Caguiron. "We renovated a lot of areas that were already old and dilapidated, and used the open spaces to create a multi-purpose hall," she shared. Caguiron clarified that the BIWF "is not a jail, but a detention center" where erring foreigners are temporarily held pending their deportation. The new facilities were made following calls to improve the conditions of the detention center. "The BIWF has a capacity of less than 200, hence it is quite a challenge especially since our intel has been conducting numerous arrests. The management actually is looking at the possibility of setting up another bigger detention center somewhere north of Luzon. This is part of our long term plans," she shared.

 

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According to Bureau of Immigration Port Operations Chief Grifton Medina. —An Iranian fugitive wanted for an assault and battery case was intercepted by immigration officers upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Thursday morning. Bureau of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division (POD) Chief Grifton Medina said 31-year-old Zare Bahari Bahareh was immediately excluded hours after she arrived at the NAIA terminal 3 aboard a Cebu Pacific flight from Dubai.

Medina said Zare Bahari, who was a respondent to an assault and battery case in Dagupan, was intercepted by Bureau of Immigration men upon seeing that her name has a hit in their derogatory database. According to Bureau of Immigration NAIA Terminal 3 Head Bradford Allen So, Zare Bahari was excluded as she is the subject of a red notice from Interpol. So likewise disclosed that during the implementation of Zare Bahari’s exclusion, another Iranian national they later identified as Minbashi Moeini Morteza had then approached the Immigration arrival area. "Morteza was unruly. He was able to enter restricted areas at the airport, collect the luggage of Bahari, and sneak into the immigration arrival area to personally fetch his compatriot, surprisingly without an airport pass," So said. He added that Morteza's presence in the arrival area was a brazen case of security breach that they had to immediately report to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA). "Morteza and Zare Bahari were already causing a scene, and had to be forced apart by airport authorities, as Zare Bahari was screaming ‘Jesus kill you all Filipinos!’” So further shared. Morteza was reportedly then taken into custody by airport security personnel. Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente then expressed his dismay towards the incident. “Foreign nationals should respect our laws when they are in our country. Improper behavior and derogatory remarks gave the officer further reason to deny Zare Bahari’s entry,” he stated. He likewise requested airport authorities to conduct an investigation on the illegal entry of Morteza in the airport premises. “This is a clear security breach, and should not be taken lightly. We are deeply concerned as to how this person was able to enter the airport without inspection,” he added.

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The Bureau of Immigration (BI) urged aspiring Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to avoid human traffickers and illegal recruiters who would prey on their vulnerabilities, after the agency uncovered the recurrence a modus operandi of a syndicate that houses and trains its victims at safe houses before deployment abroad. Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the reminder after two women were recently barred from leaving the country for misrepresenting their age and narrating their experience with the syndicate that recruited them. The women had alleged that they were kept by their handlers in a safehouse in Paco, Manila for two months before they were booked for their flights.

Morente instructed the bureau’s port operations division (POD) and travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) to conduct strict profiling and inspection of departing passengers to ensure that no underage OFWs are able to leave. According to Bureau of Immigration POD chief Grifton Medina, the two women, aged 19 and 20, were intercepted last Sept. 21 at the NAIA terminal 2 in their attempt to board a connecting flight from Dubai to Saudi Arabia. Medina said the passengers both presented valid passports, visas, job contract, and overseas employment certificates but the birth dates in their documents were intentionally altered to make it appear that they meet the age requirement for Household Service Workers which is 23 years. “Both women initially claimed that they were 26 years old, but eventually admitted their real age upon questioning,” Medina said. Bureau of Immigration-TCEU chief Timotea Barizo said that the women recounted how they were housed for two months at a safehouse in Manila where they were briefed and taught by their recruiters how to respond to questions from immigration officers. “We've heard this in the past, usually victims would be briefed a few days before their flight. But now they're actually housed for months to train on how to evade immigration questioning," said Barizo. "The two victims admitted that their documents were given only prior to departure, and that they were told to open it only after check in. This forces them to go on and comply with the scheme despite the discrepancy since they are already there,” Barizo said. Morente reiterated his reminder to OFWs not to fall prey to these schemes. "Transact only with legitimate agencies accredited by the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration)," he reminded.

 

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Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente disclosed that 71-year-old Alfons Hermann Keittl was arrested last Thursday in Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental by operatives from the bureau’s fugitive search unit (FSU). Morente said Keittl’s deportation was sought by the German embassy in Manila which informed the Bureau of Immigration about an arrest warrant that a local court in the town of Landshut, Germany issued against the fugitive last July.

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The Bureau of Immigration (BI) urged aspiring Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to avoid human traffickers and illegal recruiters who would prey on their vulnerabilities, after the agency uncovered the recurrence a modus operandi of a syndicate that houses and trains its victims at safe houses before deployment abroad. Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the reminder after two women were recently barred from leaving the country for misrepresenting their age and narrating their experience with the syndicate that recruited them. The women had alleged that they were kept by their handlers in a safehouse in Paco, Manila for two months before they were booked for their flights.

Morente instructed the bureau’s port operations division (POD) and travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) to conduct strict profiling and inspection of departing passengers to ensure that no underage OFWs are able to leave. According to Bureau of Immigration POD chief Grifton Medina, the two women, aged 19 and 20, were intercepted last Sept. 21 at the NAIA terminal 2 in their attempt to board a connecting flight from Dubai to Saudi Arabia. Medina said the passengers both presented valid passports, visas, job contract, and overseas employment certificates but the birth dates in their documents were intentionally altered to make it appear that they meet the age requirement for Household Service Workers which is 23 years. “Both women initially claimed that they were 26 years old, but eventually admitted their real age upon questioning,” Medina said. Bureau of Immigration-TCEU chief Timotea Barizo said that the women recounted how they were housed for two months at a safehouse in Manila where they were briefed and taught by their recruiters how to respond to questions from immigration officers. “We've heard this in the past, usually victims would be briefed a few days before their flight. But now they're actually housed for months to train on how to evade immigration questioning," said Barizo. "The two victims admitted that their documents were given only prior to departure, and that they were told to open it only after check in. This forces them to go on and comply with the scheme despite the discrepancy since they are already there,” Barizo said. Morente reiterated his reminder to OFWs not to fall prey to these schemes. "Transact only with legitimate agencies accredited by the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration)," he reminded.

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