MIAA vows probe into fake access pass used to traffic Pinoys for Chinese crypto scam

MIAA vows probe into fake access pass used to traffic Pinoys for Chinese crypto scam
Passengers queue at the various gates of the NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City on October 29, 2022.
STAR / Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Following the Senate hearing on trafficked overseas Filipino workers in Myanmar, the Manila International Airport Authority vowed an investigation into the supposed fake access pass used to slip through its security measures to traffic OFWs into joining a Chinese cryptocurrency scam operation. 

The MIAA maintains the terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

At Tuesday's hearing of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, Sen. Risa Hontiveros and two survivors of the human trafficking operation alleged that personnel of the Bureau of Immigration were involved in the scam and were responsible for the entry of the operation's agents into the country. 

In a statement sent to reporters Wednesday morning, MIAA General Manager Cesar Chiong said he directed a thorough probe into the alleged use of fake airport passes to aid in human trafficking attempts. "The MIAA deplores this act against humanity and vows to fully support multi-agency initiatives to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice," it said. 

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco at Tuesday's hearing also said that the passengers were given a fake monthly pass stamped with the logo of the Manila International Airport Authority, which manages the terminals of the NAIA. 

"The modus is, obviously, they have the [passengers] check in first and they don't let them leave. They're given a fake name, an ID, and stamped boarding pass. And they meet them outside the airport with the agent," he said, citing the bureau's internal investigations. "I believe that is now the responsibility of the airport security."

Hontiveros also presented a photo of the fake pass, which gives the passengers access to the delivery bay under the company name: "WHSMITH Comfort Food." Tansingco was not able to answer questions about the supposed company. 

The Bureau of Immigration later found that the rescued OFW did not have any travel records after his rescue. The supposed BI official who tended to his concerns was also not actually among its employees, it found. 

The findings come as the latest in the senator's expose of a large-scale human trafficking operation by the Chinese mafia, which she earlier said primarily recruited Filipinos for their English-speaking skills and enticed them with high-paying telemarketing jobs abroad. 

The MIAA in its statement Wednesday also said that on four separate occasions in October and this month, MIAA-contracted security guards in NAIA Terminal 3 thwarted attempts of four passengers posing as employees of an airport concessionaire, to leave the country bypassing immigration formalities.

They have been endorsed to the Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking for disposition, the authority said. 

"With the continued help of law enforcement agencies, the Bureau of Immigration and the intelligence community, the MIAA shall continue to beef up security measures to further safeguard the lives and uphold the dignity of our Overseas Filipino Workers passing through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport," the MIAA also said. — Franco Luna 

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