IMMIGRATION officials barred more than 100 undocumented Filipinos from leaving the country through the Zamboanga International Seaport, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said they had intercepted 110 undocumented female passengers in three separate incidents.

First intercepted on Feb. 10 were 37 people who tried to go to Sandakan, Malaysia.

The passengers had given conflicting statements, while some presented altered passports and supporting documents, Usman Sabdani, head of the port’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit, said.

The bureau on Feb. 17 also stopped 17 Filipinas from leaving the port for Qatar and Dubai, where they were supposed to work as housemaids without employment permits, it said.

Meanwhile, the agency on Feb. 24 stopped 56 Filipinas from leaving the Zamboanga port for Malaysia. The passengers were headed from there to Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon and Kuwait, it said.

Mr. Morente said workers attempting to go to Middle Eastern countries had been trying to use Malaysia as a jump-off point.

The Filipinas, who came from different parts of the country, had been recruited through Facebook, the bureau said, citing interviews with the passengers.

Mr. Morente said charges will be filed against the illegal recruiters, who had been trying to use other exit points to avoid strict inspections.

“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,” he said. “These schemes will not pass, as we are intent in doing our mandate in protecting Filipinos from these syndicates,” he added.

The Filipinas were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance and investigation. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas