Hontiveros calls on the DFA to address fake passports used in human trafficking
Aileen Cerrudo • May 4, 2021 • 138
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Risa Hontiveros has called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to take actions against fake passports being used in human trafficking.
During a Senate Committee hearing on Tuesday (May 4), Hontiveros said the DFA should look into illegal schemes and enterprises that tamper with or forge passports, including a modus called “baklas passport.” Under the said scheme, the trafficked individual assumes the passport details of another person.
Hontiveros revealed three accounts of Filipino Muslim girls who were victims of human trafficking. They were identified as Omaima, Aleah, and Lenlen (not her real name). During the hearing, the women attested that their passports were fabricated to hide the fact that they were underaged.
“Our witness, Lenlen, went to the DFA in Cotabato to get her biometric passport in 2018. Why then did the DFA give her a fake passport?” the senator said.
One of the Filipino Muslim girls who were trafficked to Syria as minors also said that her passport was ‘baklas’ or fake.
The senator asked if there was a government official colluding with human trafficking criminals. She also called on the Foreign Affairs Department to conduct an investigation on its officials from across the country who may be facilitating the production of fake passports.
Another survivor of human trafficking in Syria said she was recruited when she was 14 years old. She said she was also a victim of verbal sexual harassment by an employee of the Philippine Embassy in Syria.
“I call on the DFA to regularly check the welfare of our women and girls abroad. We would not have known of this case, had Lenlen kept this story to herself. The DFA should be proactive in protecting our women,” Hontiveros said.
Meanwhile, pastillas scheme whistle blower Alex Chiong confirmed that corrupt Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers have a Viber group chat that displays the list of names of women to be trafficked out of the country. The list may include underage girls with fraudulent passports.
According to the BI, the immigration officer who stamped the passport of 2018 survivor Lenlen in the list of individuals, is being investigated by the agency for being part of outbound human trafficking activities.
“If we find that this is syndicated trafficking, or trafficking committed by a group of three or more persons conspiring or confederating with each other, the prescription period is 20 years. Let’s all help finally resolve this revolting issue. Let’s do all we can for our children,” Hontiveros said. AAC
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has filed two protests against China for the continuous presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, and its “belligerent actions against the Philippine Coast Guard.”
In a statement, the DFA said it has protested the shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) on the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels conducting legitimate maritime patrols and training exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc.
The department also mentioned in its protest “the incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones.”
“From January 1 to March 18, 2021, Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies monitored the continued unauthorized presence and activities of hundreds of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in the areas around the Pag-asa Islands, Zamora Reef, Panata and Kota Islands, Ayungin Shoal, Quirino Atoll, and Bajo de Masinloc,” the statement said.
The department also rejects the statement of the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 26 April 2021 that China enjoys sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc, reiterating that such statement has no “basis in international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and is not recognized by the international community.”
The DFA further emphasized that “the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Bajo de Masinloc are integral parts of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction.”
It also reiterated that China has no law enforcement rights in these areas.
The DFA also called on China “to withdraw its government vessels around the KIG and Bajo de Masinloc and respect Philippine sovereignty.” AAC
A Filipina scientist has been awarded a Knighthood in the Netherlands in recognition of her tireless dedication in promoting The Netherlands relations with the Philippines.
The Embassy of the Netherlands in the Philippines has announced that Ambassador Saskia de Lang honored Dr. Mary Ann Pelagio Sayoc by awarding her a Knighthood in the Order of Orange-Nassau.
“I am very proud to announce that it has pleased His Majesty King Willem-Alexander to award a Knighthood on a leading personality of the Dutch-Filipino community. It is a recognition of exceptional merit to The Netherlands,” she said in conferring the knighthood to Sayoc.
The statement said Dr. Sayoc has significantly contributed in realizing efforts aimed at transforming Philippine agriculture and boosting productivity of local farmers. She also headed various organizations that boosts the ties between the Philippines and the Netherlands.
The Order of Orange-Nassau is awarded to individuals for longstanding meritorious service to society. AAC
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