MANILA - Seven women who were illegally recruited to work as domestic helpers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were rescued at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Wednesday.
The human trafficking victims were intercepted last Thursday, Jan. 30, at the departure area of the NAIA Terminal 3 as they were about to board a Dubai-bound flight, said BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina.
The women were barred from leaving after immigration officers found out they were in possession of fake Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) clearances.
"This should send a signal to these syndicates that there is no letup in our anti-trafficking campaign despite the 2019 nCoV ARD [2019 Novel Coronavirus acute respiratory disease] outbreak. Our departure areas remain off limits to human traffickers and their victims,” Medina said.
The virus outbreak has prompted the BI to implement stricter screening procedures for travelers as part of measures to combat the spread of the virus.
Ma. Timotea Barizo, BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) chief, said the women presented validation forms purportedly showing that their documents were checked and cleared by Labor Assistance Center personnel. They were also found to be fake.
"They admitted during interview that the bogus documents were given to them by their handlers and they were recruited via Facebook to work as domestic helpers in the UAE,” Barizo added.
The victims were immediately turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation.