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Immigration reports rescue of 688 trafficking, illegal recruitment victims in 2021

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Immigration reports rescue of 688 trafficking, illegal recruitment victims in 2021
Seven Filipina wards from the Philippine Embassy shelter in Damascus take a picture before boarding their flight back to the Philippines on Feb. 25, 2021. The wards, along with 31 others, are victims of human trafficking who were illegally hired to work in Syria.
Department of Foreign Affairs / Released

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration said its officers at airports rescued 688 possible victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment in 2021.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said officers deferred the departure of 13,680 passengers last year, and a majority of these have improper documentation.

“Some common schemes that these human traffickers and illegal recruiters would employ is the issuance of fake documents or tampered visas to their victims, falsified marriages, the continued attempt to use tourist visas to work abroad and duping underage Filipinos to work as household workers,” Morente added.

BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit said that of these, 491 are seen as possible human trafficking victims and were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance and investigation.

The bureau also turned over 197 victims who presented counterfeit or questionable work permits and job contracts to the Philippine Overseas Employment.

Morente said: “There is still a large number of minors and underage victims posing as legitimate workers that were intercepted this year despite the pandemic and despite the continuous warnings we have issued.”

In 2021, the bureau reported that they intercepted flights of 326 minor victims, with 18 of them assuming identities of other persons.

There were also 34 who presented during departure fraudulent or counterfeit documents upon checking by BI’s forensics documents laboratory.

The Philippines in 2021 maintained its Tier 1 ranking in the US State Department Trafficking in Persons report, which means that the Philippine government met the minimum standards in the elimination of trafficking.

The same report however also noted the lack of conviction of officials complicit in continued trafficking and vigorous investigation into labor trafficking crimes in the country.

Data from the IACAT’s 2021 accomplishment report showed that Anti-Trafficking Task Forces assisted in the investigation of 66 successful operations that resulted in the rescue of 651 victims and the arrest of 41 suspects. — Kristine Joy Patag

BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

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