Immigration stops 100 female prospective OFWs from leaving Zamboanga Port

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DAVAO CITY — The Bureau of Immigration stopped some 110 prospective Overseas Filipino Workers from leaving Zamboanga port to Sandakan Malaysia.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente in a statement said the massive interception on undocumented Filipino workers in the Zamboanga International Seaport (ZIS) was detected by the immigration officials.

Morente said the women victims of human trafficking were promised to work as household service workers or caregivers either in Dubai, Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait or Qatar .

The Immigration record showed that on February 10, 37 victims attempted to board MV Antonio 1 bound for Sandakan, Malaysia.

On February 17, another 17 female passengers were deferred departure attempting to board the same vessel, and were found to be mostly traveling to Dubai.

On Monday, February 24, a total of fifty-six (56) passengers also bound for Sandakan, Malaysia.

Most of the victims confessed that they will start their journey to the Middle East in Malaysia.

Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) Head Usman Sabdani revealed that during interview, the 37 gave conflicting statements, while some presented altered passports and supporting documents.

It was later found out that most were bound for Qatar and Dubai, where they were recruited to illegally work without the proper employment documents.

The victims hail from different parts of Mindanao and were recruited through Facebook while others were recruited by agencies .

Morente disclosed that the workers were trying to use Malaysia as a jump-off point to other Middle Eastern countries, where they received job offers to work in the service industry.

“These illegal syndicates are seemingly attempting to look for other exit points to be able to evade strict immigration inspection,” said Morente. “What they have not realized is that we have spread out our personnel, and are maintaining the same level of screening in all ports in the country, to ensure that our kababayan will not be victimized by these unscrupulous individuals,” he added.

The 110 were turned over to representatives of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance and further investigation.

“We are pushing that cases be filed against their illegal recruiters. This is clearly a case of human trafficking, and even those from the north travel all the way to Zamboanga in an attempt to depart illegally to work abroad,” said Morente.

“These schemes will not pass, as we are intent in doing our mandate in protecting Filipinos from these syndicates,” he warned.-ezc/NewsLine

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