MANILA — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has intercepted close to 38,000 from leaving the country as part of its anti-human trafficking campaign.
According to the report of BI port operations division chief Marc Red Mariñas to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, a total of 37,856 travelers were prevented from departing for failure to comply with government regulations and requirements.
Majority of the offloaded passengers were stopped at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) while the rest were prevented in the ports of Mactan, Clark, Kalibo, Iloilo, Davao, and Zamboanga.
Mariñas explained passengers’ departures were “deferred” pending their compliance with government requirements for departing Filipino tourists based on the revised guidelines on departure formalities issued by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
On the other hand, Morente enjoined immigration officers manning the ports to remain vigilant in screening departing Filipino travelers to make sure that they do not fall prey to human traffickers and illegal recruiters.
“We should not allow these syndicates to prey on our poor countrymen by enticing them to illegally travel abroad without proper documentation,” the BI chief said in a statement Thursday.
The BI’s anti-trafficking drive at the ports is spearheaded by the travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) composed of immigration officers who conduct secondary inspection of departing travelers with questionable travel documents and doubtful purposes in going abroad.
TCEU chief Julius Caesar Feria II noted that the bulk of the passengers, also known as “tourist workers,” were bound for the Middle East while some were destined for other countries in Asia, Europe and North America.
“Many of these offloaded passengers were caught in possession of fraudulent supporting documents,” he said.
“Some resorted to misrepresentation while others had tampered or unverified employment visas,” Feria added.
The BI also reported that there were 2,300 foreigners who were barred from leaving last year, such as those who were in its hold departure list and watchlist and aliens who were subject of ongoing deportation proceedings.