The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a memo directing the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the Bureau of Immigration employees allegedly involved in human trafficking schemes.
As per Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s directive, the NBI is to conduct a case build up on the “alleged involvement of BI officials and personnel in human trafficking activities and escort services.”
NBI Probes Immigration Employees Involved in Human Trafficking, Escort Services Scheme
According to the DOJ directive, the investigation will cover “facilitating the departure of Filipino tourists intending to work abroad especially in Kuwait and entry of foreign nationals to the Philippines, at the Clark International Airport, Puerto Princesa Airport, and Kalibo International Airport,” as shared in a report by the Philippine Star.
Though the memo is dated January 22, it was only made public last Friday (February 7).
In a separate statement, Justice Secretary Guevarra told reporters that when he issued the memo, “there were reports of new OFWs headed for Kuwait (banned) and other restricted places in the Middle East but would transit first in Malaysia or Indonesia.”
The Philippines enforced a total employment ban to Kuwait earlier in January following the death of domestic helper Jeanelyn Villavende. The country partially lifted the ban on Thursday, February 6.
Guevarra pointed out that the undocumented foreign nationals may have been allowed entry into the country through the scheme allegedly made in connivance with Immigration employees.
It is worth noting, however, that the Immigration Bureau and the NBI are under the DOJ.
The bureau, meanwhile, expressed that it is open, and it welcomes the investigation.
Commenting on this development, Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval said: “We are at one with the DOJ in our goal of cleaning up our ranks.“
Sandoval further noted that the BI has dismissed and suspended more than 60 personnel due to various offenses since mid-2019.
In line with this, Sandoval gave a warning that violators will face administrative and criminal cases.
She noted: “We will not hesitate to impose harsh penalties to others who are found to be committing such acts… This will serve as a warning to all who still attempt to conduct corrupt practices in the Bureau.”
In other news, seven Filipino women who were being illegally recruited to work in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were intercepted by immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) on February 6 (Thursday).
According to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) port operations division chief Grifton Medina, the human trafficking victims were barred from leaving on Thursday at the departure area of Naia Terminal 3 as they were about to board a Cebu Pacific flight to Dubai.
For her part, Ma. Timotea Barizo, BI travel control, and enforcement unit chief, explained that the women were caught in possession of fake Philippine Overseas Employment Administration clearances.
The involved women admitted during an interview that the bogus documents were given to them by their handlers and they were recruited via Facebook to work as domestic helpers in the UAE.
Commenting on the incident, Medina said that the incident should serve as a warning to syndicates operating the same modus.