By Stephanie Sevillano

ADDRESSING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco conducts operation inspections at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). He said strengthened undercover police presence in airport premises may help detect recurring human trafficking attempts. (Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Immigration)

MANILA – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday called for stronger undercover police presence within airport premises to combat human trafficking.

In a statement, BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said authorities will be able to detect the illicit activity since it is happening under their noses. 

“Iisa ang modus, paulit-ulit lang naman, at sa iisang lugar din sila nagkikita. To stop trafficking, you have to yank it from its roots and stomp on it hard (The modus is the same, it’s recurring. And they meet at the very same place. To stop trafficking you have to yank it from its roots and stomp on it hard),” he said. 

Tansingco cited how police authorities can monitor suspected people who are often seen in the area, noting reports about victims receiving fake documents from illegal recruiters within the airport complex before departure. 

 “Hindi na dapat sila umaabot dito [sa immigration area]. Bago makarating ng airport ang biktima, ang dami nang pinagdadaanan (They should not even reach here [the immigration area]. Before the victims arrive at the airport, they have undergone a tedious process),” he said. 

Tansingco said the victims are recruited through social media and pay using wire transfers. They then receive the fake documents outside of the airport. 

A female victim who was illegally recruited to work in Dubai, United Arab Emirates reported a similar scheme last July 17. 

Similar to previous interceptions, the victim was also instructed to pretend as a tourist bound for Singapore with her fake documents handed just outside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1. 

Tansingco, meanwhile, reiterated how crucial a whole-of-government approach is in combating human trafficking in the country. 

Earlier, the Bureau intensified system integration with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to streamline immigration and verification processes. 

Tansingco warned that fake certificates of overseas employment and concealed visas are easily verifiable through stringent immigration inspection and shared intelligence and system with the DMW.  (With report from Stephanie Sevillano/PNA)