Immigration Bureau intercepts 4 human trafficking victims at Mactan Airport

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 12, 2020   •   190

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has intercepted four suspected victims of human trafficking at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA).

According to BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina, the four women were supposed to take a connecting flight to Dubai from Thailand to work as domestic helpers.

The four women were supposed to board a flight last February 1.

“It appears that the novel coronavirus outbreak has not deterred these syndicates from continuing with their nefarious activities. We are warning their would-be victims that they will not be able to leave, contrary to the promise of their recruiters,” Medina said.

The head of the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) Ma. Asuncion Palma-Gi said the four women initially claimed that they are mere tourists who would be going to Thailand for a vacation.

They later admitted that they were going to Dubai to work as domestic helpers and that they were directly recruited by a certain ‘Ms. Jessa’ from a Dubai-based recruitment agency.

“The four were referred to the MCIA Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance in filing a case against their recruiters,” according to the Immigration Bureau.

The BI reiterated their warning against human trafficking and advised potential victims not to fall for illegal entities.—AAC

PH Immigration reminds foreigners of ban on attending political rallies

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday reminded foreigners that they are not allowed to engage in any political activity in the country.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente reiterated the prohibition in time for the celebration of the EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary.

Morente said that foreigners joining mass protests and actions for or against the government may lead to their arrest and deportation.

He added that such right is only reserved for Filipino nationals.

“A visitor of a country is allowed to stay here for health, business, or pleasure,” Morente said.

“Joining rallies and protests is an utter display of disrespect to the country, and is equivalent to meddling in our internal affairs as a sovereign nation,” he added.

The Bureau clarified that they have not received any intelligence information about foreigners joining protests, but are sending out warnings regularly to remind the public of this rule.

BI Operations Order No. SBM-2015-025 prohibits foreigners from engaging in political activities while in the country.

“Foreigners who join mass actions are violating the conditions of their stay. If found guilty, we will blacklist these foreigners, effectively barring them from re-entering the country,” Morente warned.

The Philippine government has previously expelled foreigners for allegedly violating this policy.

Immigration chief vows to cooperate with probe, lifestyle check over alleged ‘pastillas’ modus

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2020

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente

MANILA, Philippines – Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente gave the assurance that he and his personnel will cooperate with any impartial probe and lifestyle check conducted by authorities in relation to the so-called ‘pastillas’ scandal at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In a statement on Sunday, Morente welcomed the graft and corruption investigation conducted separately by the Senate and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

He also expressed dismay over the allegations against some immigration officers stationed at the NAIA who were accused of receiving payoffs from syndicates of tour operators to facilitate the entry of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) workers and fugitives from China.

Immigration Officer Allison Chiong revealed the alleged scheme involving many of his colleagues in a Senate inquiry last week.

“As the Commissioner, I am very disappointed with the unauthorized activities of some personnel who continue to commit irregularities despite our determined efforts to get rid of the culture of corruption in the Bureau since 2016,” he said.

“On the other hand, I am certain that after this exposé, the intense public scrutiny and accompanying trial by the publicity that the Bureau has been subjected to will only ensure that we come out stronger as we weather yet another storm,” he added.

Morente said that all immigration officers accused of involvement in the scheme have been placed in the Administrative holding office without any privileges.

He assured that due process will be observed as they bring the accused to the court of justice.

“This incident and the corresponding consequences should serve as a strong warning and reminder to others not to engage in any unethical practices,” he said.

“As added measures to deter and expose any more illegal activities, we have included new protocols in the conduct of secondary inspections in open areas to improve transparency and installation of additional CCTV cameras in all areas of the primary inspectors,” he added.

He also urged members of the immigration bureau to remain professional and focused on performing their duties.

“As frontliners in border security, we must continue to remain unfazed by the hazards of the job, including the threat of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus disease 2019) outbreak to the health of Immigration Officers as well as the cloud of doubt arising from this issue that has put the reputation and character of every Immigration Officer in question,” Morente said.

PH Immigration deports 9 Japanese nationals wanted for telco fraud

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday said it has deported nine Japanese nationals who are wanted by authorities in their country for telecommunication fraud.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente identified the Japanese nationals as Irie Dai, Ishii Kyogo, Hamaoka Kantaro, Maeyama Takuto, Tanaka Kazuya, Yoshida Takeshi, Murata Seiichi, Kouki Shouji, and Imizumi Ryo.

They were flown to Narita Airport in Tokyo around 9:40 a.m. aboard a Japan Airlines flight from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1.

Morente said they are the first batch of deportees among the 36 Japanese nationals who were arrested by the bureau’s fugitive search unit (FSU) in Makati City last November 13, 2019.

The BI-FSU operatives captured the foreigners in the act of operating several work stations they allegedly used to conduct voice phishing operations.

Japanese authorities earlier said that the arrested individuals are members of an organized crime group that engaged in voice phishing and telecom fraud that victimized many of their compatriots in Japan.

Authorities further alleged that combined losses incurred by the suspects’ victims already amounted to more than 2 billion yen or more than US$18 million.

Morente said the BI Board of Commissioners issued a summary deportation order against the group. They were also included in the bureau’s blacklist of undesirable aliens to prevent them from re-entering the Philippines.

The remaining arrested Japanese nationals are still detained at the BI detention facility in Taguig pending the finalization of their deportation schedule.

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