Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2 cops in hot water for alleged human trafficking

Two policemen assigned to the Aviation Security Group are now in hot water for alleged involvement in human trafficking activities.

Immigration acting Commissioner Ronaldo Ledesma said the two, whom he did not name, are under investigation for possible links to human trafficking syndicates operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The activities of the group were discovered after Immigration officers intercepted on Monday nine Lebanon-bound Filipino women attempting to leave the Philippines by using fake Immigration departure stamps on their passports.

Ledesma said the two policemen were allegedly responsible for the fake stamps on the passports of prospective overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Ledesma said the women, who planned to work as domestic helpers in Beirut, were about to board a Philippine Airlines flight to Singapore when they were stopped. 

He said the would-be OFWs planned to take a connecting flight to Lebanon.

Deployment ban

The Philippine government has a long standing deployment ban to the Middle Eastern country.

Ledesma said the passengers were hurriedly walking past the immigration counters when they were spotted and accosted by members of the Bureau of Immigration’s Travel Control Enforcement unit (TCEU).

The women reportedly ignored the queuing policy of the bureau and went straight to the boarding gate, he said.

“They evaded inspection by our immigration officers because it turned out that their passports already had fake immigration departure stamps," Ledesma said.

“It is obvious that the human trafficking syndicates are feeling the pinch of our intensified campaign that they are resorting to all means to bring their victims out of the country," he added. 

Offloaded workers

BI-airport operations division chief Maria Antonette Bucasas did not divulge the names of the offloaded workers in deference to their plight as human trafficking victims.

She said the women admitted during questioning that they were hired to work as domestic helpers in Lebanon.

“One of them even presented her Lebanon visa which was concealed inside a chocolate bar wrapper," Bucasas said.

She said the case of the offloaded passengers was referred to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation.

The BI and IACAT’s intensified campaign against human trafficking is part of the Aquino administration’s efforts to remove the Philippines from the US State Department’s Tier 2 watch list of countries with severe trafficking situations.

The campaign has resulted in the offloading of thousands of prospective OFWs, most of whom only have tourist visas although they intend to work in their respective countries of destination. - KBK/VS, GMANews.TV

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