TWO women victims of a human trafficking scheme, wherein they were instructed to pose as seafarers but were bound to work as call center agents in Laos, were recently intercepted by authorities at the Clark International Airport, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) reported on Thursday
“The women initially claimed they were sea-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) recruited to work in Thailand, and presented spurious documents to mislead immigration officers,” the BI said in a statement.
The immigration bureau earlier said there was an increase in Filipinos being trafficked to Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, who were forced to work as call center agents for online scam operations.
“The modus operandi here is for the victims to initially fly to Thailand where they would then board their connecting flight to Laos,” Immigration Commissioner Norman G. Tansingco said.
The victims were turned over to the country’s council against trafficking, which will provide legal assistance to pursue lawsuits against the recruiters.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. last month ordered the anti-trafficking council to thwart the “business of human trafficking” with the private sector.
He cited the need to maintain the Philippines’ Tier 1 status, which means the country fully complies with minimum standards against trafficking.
The United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Office conducts a yearly assessment to monitor the efforts of all countries in fighting human trafficking. It provides each country with a grade according to a three-tier scale.
In the first two months of the year, 57 departures from the country’s international airports were tagged as possible cases of human trafficking, based on BI data. — John Victor D. Ordoñez