BI warns of illegal recruitment scheme victimizing former Overseas Filipino Workers

Marje Pelayo   •   April 12, 2021   •   544

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is warning illegal recruiters taking advantage of former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid the current employment crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was after members of the BI Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) at the Clark International Airport intercepted the departure of an illegal recruitment victim bound for Dubai last April 5, 2021.

The victim, whose name was not divulged following human trafficking and illegal recruitment laws, attempted to depart for Dubai via an Emirates Airlines flight.

The victim presented an overseas employment certificate (OEC) being a Balik Manggagawa, but upon checking of his documents, Immigration Officer Vanessa Icban noticed some inconsistencies and referred the matter to members of BI’s TCEU for further inspection.

Upon further checking, TCEU officer Tomas David and Vincent Serrano noted that the victim arrived in the country in 2019, and possessed a Dubai work visa.

However, after verification, it was found that his work visa has already been cancelled, and he has an active tourist visa.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente commended the efforts of the Clark immigration officers in intercepting said victim.

“I know it is a challenge to intercept such cases as they are presenting complete documents and are in the guise of being legitimate OFWs,” said Morente.

“We commend the quick eye of our immigration officers, which allowed them to uncover this modus,” he added.

In the said scheme, former OFWs whose visas and contracts have expired are given new tourist visas which allow them to depart and work illegally as tourists, using their old OEC records.

“This is an obvious circumvention of the law, and victims are promised that they can depart using their old OECs that are, in fact, invalid already,” the BI Chief said.

“Victims end up working for a different employer, or worse, fly off to a third country like Iraq or Syria,” he added.

The victim was turned over to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Labor Assistance Center Pampanga for assistance.

Immigration bureau bars NAIA personnel from going on leave until Jan. 31

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2022

Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have been barred from taking vacation leaves until the end of January to maximize its manpower at the premiere port, an official from the agency said.

In a statement, Atty. Carlos Capulong, BI Port Operations Division (POD) Chief, said a directive has been issued extending up to January 31 the period within which immigration personnel at the NAIA are banned from going on leaves.

The said ban, which started last December 16 before the 2021 holiday break, was supposed to lapse last January 15.

Capulong said the ban on filing vacation leaves has been extended for two more weeks as the number of BI officers at the airport infected with COVID-19 has soared in the past few days.

He stressed the directive was necessary to ensure unhampered airport operations amid increasing number of immigration personnel who tested positive for the virus or are in quarantine.

“No application for leave during this period will be entertained or approved, and all filed leaves are hereby cancelled to ensure that we have enough personnel to service the traveling public,” Capulong said.

The BI said that as of Monday, January 17, a total of 138 BI-POD personnel have tested positive for the virus. An additional 129 employees remain on quarantine while waiting for the results of their swab tests.

On the other hand, 99 other personnel tested negative and have already returned to work.

Last week, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued an advisory downgrading its office operations to 30% worksite capacity due to the spike in COVID-19 infections in its offices.


PH Immigration offices lowers worksite capacity to 30% amid spike in COVID cases

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2022

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced it will be downgrading its onsite workforce to at least 30% starting January 13.

In an advisory, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the reduced workforce will be implemented until January 22 in response to the spike in COVID-19 infections plaguing BI offices.

The bureau earlier reported 251 active cases among its personnel. Of the said number, 135 are assigned at the airport, 91 at the BI’s office in Intramuros, while 25 were from other BI offices.

A total of 269 of BI airport personnel are also under quarantin and awaiting results of their COVID-19 testing.

Morente said he sought Department of Justice Secretary Guevarra’s approval to lower the number of onsite employees in compliance with directives from the Palace.

“We thank Secretary Menardo Guevarra for considering our plight and approving our request to temporarily downgrade our workforce amidst this surge,” said Morente.

“The high number of BI personnel getting sick with COVID-19 is really affecting our operations,” he added.

The BI said all its offices shall continue to be open during weekdays, from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm, despite the reduced workforce.

Employees working offsite are reminded to observe the guidelines for applicable alternative work arrangements as set by the Civil Service Commission.

“We hope that the public bears with us as we reduce our manpower during this surge,” said Morente.

“Our frontliners are getting sick, but we will make sure that the delivery of our services remain unhampered,” he added.

The advisory also stated that fully vaccinated clients are exempted from the Bureau’s Online Appointment System, upon presentation of their vaccination card or certification. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated clients are advised to continue securing their appointment online via

Registered aliens reporting for the Annual Report 2022 are required to secure an appointment online.

BI tells holiday outbound travelers: Be at airport early to avoid crowding

Robie de Guzman   •   December 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has reminded passengers going abroad during the holidays to be at the airport early to avoid crowding amid an increasing number of departing travelers at local airports.

In a statement, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said arriving earlier than the scheduled flight will allow passengers ample time to check in at their airlines and ensure social distancing at the immigration area.

Morente said that in the past few days they have observed a steady increase in the number of international travelers departing from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), and the airports in Mactan, Cebu, and Clark, Pampanga with the onset of the holiday season.

“While there are significantly fewer travelers this year because of the pandemic, there could still be congestion for late passengers rushing during boarding time,” said Morente.

“We can help avoid congestion during boarding by checking in early,” he added.

Local airlines also suggest that travelers start the check-in process 3 to 4 hours prior to their scheduled flight.

Morente said that due to the pandemic, airlines would need to conduct additional checks to ensure compliance with travel restrictions of different countries of destination.

The Immigration chief also advised departing passengers to make sure that they possess complete travel documents, as well as the added travel requirements by different countries due to the pandemic.

He also added that BI officers have been instructed to be more vigilant in screening passengers as human traffickers and illegal recruiters could take advantage of the holiday rush to spirit their victims out of the country.

“Our immigration officers are always on the lookout for suspected human trafficking and illegal recruitment victims,” said Morente.

“Despite the holiday rush, we will ensure that our kababayans are protected from these predators, and we will turn over any victims to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for filing of cases against their recruiters,” he added.


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