Immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) barred from leaving the country 34 prospective overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for Thailand.
In a report to Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Ricardo A. David Jr., BI airport operations division acting chief Lina Andaman Pelia said the passengers were offloaded last April 7 as they were about to board a Philippine Airlines flight to Bangkok.
Pelia said the passengers were prevented from boarding their flight after intense questioning by immigration officers forced them to confess that they were actually OFWs disguised as business travelers.
“They were offloaded for not having the required clearances and employment permits from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Pelia said. Immigration Officer Marlene Pedrealba, who heads the NAIA-BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) added that the passengers admitted during the interviews that they were going to work in Bangkok.
“In fact, many of them are former OFWs who had worked in Dubai,” Pedrealba stressed.
It was Pedrealba’s team that interviewed the 34 passengers after they were referred to the BI by the PAL supervisor on duty at the counter where the “tourist workers” had checked-in for their flight.
David commended the TCEU members for their vigilance even as he exhorted them to step up their vigilance and be on the lookout for similar passengers departing in large groups.
The names of the passengers were not divulged as the anti-human trafficking law prohibits the public disclosure of both the traffickers and their victims.
Investigation revealed that the OFWs were going to work for the Super Giant Touring Carnival owned by Apirom Properties Company Ltd., an affiliate of the Big Fun World company based in Dubai and where many of the passengers had already worked.
The passengers were allegedly traveling on a business visa that was provided by a company in Dubai which was supposed to process their work permits in Thailand.