A case of human trafficking, to transit in Kuala Lumpur
MANILA, Philippines – Bureau of Immigration agents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 intercepted six departing undocumented Filipina workers bound for Lebanon who were disguised as nuns last Thursday night.
Supervisor Rodolfo Magbuhos of the bureau’s Travel Control Enforcement Unit (TCEU) said the female domestic workers were dressed as nuns and about to board Cebu Pacific flight 5J 501 bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with a connecting flight to Lebanon.
Magbuhos, together with TCEU agents Marlene Pedrealba, Joel Valencia, Rose Perez, Jun Manahan and Jonathan Orozco, became suspicious when the six “nuns” lined up at the Immigration counters for clearance and stamping of their passports.
The six overseas Filipino workers, whose identities were withheld pending further investigation, were apprehended and later admitted they were actually applying for housemaid positions in Lebanon, but without the required work permits.
The Immigration agents handed over the six women, who are victims of human trafficking, to the Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for proper disposition.
Officials said the fake nuns were barred from boarding their flights since they failed to possess the necessary clearance and employment permits from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The workers only had tourist visas.
Magbuhos said the Immigration agents were initially reluctant to apprehend the “nuns,” not wishing to show disrespect to religious people.
As the questioning continued, the TCEU discovered that the six were impostors and had dressed like nuns to evade being questioned by immigration officials.
“We are not really nuns, our recruiters told us to wear this to trick immigration,” one of the workers said.
Magbuhos reported the case to BI Airport Operations Division (AOD) chief Antonette Bucasas Mangrobang for proper investigation and documentation and, hopefully, to apprehend the responsible recruiters.
Immigration officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma lauded immigration officials at the NAIA Terminal 3 and expects the investigation to result in the successful prosecution and conviction of the illegal recruiters and human traffickers who victimized and enticed these women to leave the country without proper documentation.
Ledesma vowed to continue the bureau’s campaign against human trafficking, not only at the NAIA, but in other major ports of the country as well.