The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it barred more than 38,000 travelers from leaving the country last year due to its unrelenting campaign against human trafficking in the different international ports. Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente disclosed that the 38,522 persons whose departures were deferred last year is 16-percent more than the nearly 33,000 travelers who were stopped from leaving in 2018.

“The men and women manning our ports deserve to be commended for their vigilance. So long as there are people who are victimized by trafficking syndicates we will not relax our guard,” Morente said. “We are duty-bound to remove them from harm’s way.” The Bureau of Immigration chief specifically lauded personnel assigned to the bureau’s port operations division (POD) and travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) for their accomplishments. BI-POD chief Grifton Medina said most of the passengers were not allowed to board their flights for failure to comply with requirements for overseas bound passengers which are spelled out in guidelines promulgated by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT). Medina said the said guidelines have been implemented in the past few years in order to combat human trafficking and illegal migration in the country’s ports of exit. According to BI-TCEU chief Ma. Timotea Barizo, about 85 percent or nearly 33,000 of the said passengers were stopped at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) while the rest were stopped in the airports of Mactan, Clark, Iloilo, Kalibo, and Davao. Barizo said passengers were often intercepted for misrepresentation or for submitting fraudulent supporting and travel documents. She added that more than 400 passengers were turned over to the IACAT for investigation and filing of charges against their handlers and recruiters. It will be recalled that due to the government’s successful drive against trafficking, 

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Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) intercepted two Chinese and two Hongkong nationals for conspiring to transit to Canada with fraudulent travel documents. Bureau of Immigration port operations chief Grifton Medina said the four aliens were caught at the NAIA terminal 2 on Friday after they arrived aboard a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight from Hongkong.

Medina said the passengers’ ruse was foiled when airline personnel who doubted their documents referred them to the Bureau of Immigration’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) for questioning. According to Bureau of Immigration-TCEU chief Ma. Timotea Barizo, two of the passengers, Hongkong nationals identified as Lam Mik Ho and Mak Hin Chun Adrian were transiting in Manila, and were supposed to board their connecting flight to Toronto, Canada. The duo checked in with the airline's transfer desk upon landing, but airline representatives were surprised when another two, who were later identified as Chinese nationals Chen Kaihui and He Chaorong, presented Hong Kong passports bearing Lam and Mak's names. "There were two sets of Lam and Maks who wanted to transit to Canada, both sets carrying the same documents," Barizo shared. Upon forensic document examination, it was discovered that Chen and He presented fake Hong Kong passports, and merely assumed the identities. Chinese passports were later discovered in their possession. The four were stopped by immigration from boarding their flight to Canada. Canadian authorities likewise cancelled the electronic travel authorization (ETA) issued to Lam and Mak due to misrepresentation. Upon learning of the incident, Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente ordered the inclusion of the four aliens in the immigration blacklist. “These undesirable aliens should be banned from entering our country. They have no right to use the Philippines as a jump off point to enter other countries illegally. Let this serve as a warning. You will be caught,” Morente said. The four were immediately sent back to Hong Kong and were barred from re-entering the Philippines.

 

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The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced on Wednesday the hiring of 100 immigration officers to man the international airports and seaports nationwide. Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente shared that the hiring is part of the agency’s drive to strengthen border control and improve its services to the traveling public. "We see the lack of manpower as one of the primary impediments in delivering a more efficient government service.

Through this hiring, we intend to provide faster and smoother processing in our ports," Morente said. He also disclosed that the Bureau of Immigration is continuously hiring to ensure that the upcoming new international airports are fully manned. Morente shared that the incoming officers, once hired, will undergo rigorous training under the agency's Center for Training and Research before deployment. "They will be housed at the the Philippine Immigration Academy in Clark, Pampanga where they will undergo a two-month training on immigration laws and procedures. After which, they will be assigned in different Bureau of Immigration offices as on-the-job trainees," he shared. Morente added that hired officers must pass examinations before being deployed. "We will only deploy immigration officers who will pass the immigration officers' course. Being an immigration officer is not easy both physically and mentally. That is also why we will only employ the best of the best," he said. It can be recalled that four months ago, the Bureau of Immigration deployed 67 newly-hired immigration officers to the country's ports and subports. "The 100 items are for Immigration Officer I positions with Salary Grade Level 11. You must be a graduate of a four year course, and have a Career Service Professional Second Level Eligibility from the Civil Service," announced Morente. According to the Bureau of Immigration, interested applicants may visit the website careers.immigration.gov.ph to lodge their application.

 

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INTRAMUROS, Manila--the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has placed its men on heightened alert as it braces itself for the upcoming South East Asian Games (SEA Games) and the holiday rush. According to Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, he issued the directive following the expected surge of Filipino and foreign travelers in the next few weeks. "We are expecting up to 3% increase in arrivals and departures this holiday season. We are certain that there will be more tourists and balikbayans who will be flying in this Christmas," said Morente.

"Even more now that the SEA Games will be held in the country, we are projecting an added 8,000 delegates including athletes, media, technical officials, volunteers, fans, and audiences," he added. Bureau of Immigration records show that in December 2018 alone, more than 1.5M passengers arrived the country, while more than 1.2M left. Morente shared that many of these are Overseas Filipino Workers and Filipinos living abroad, who come home to celebrate the Christmas season. "Christmas is probably the biggest and most anticipated holiday for our kababayan, hence it's really part of the Filipino culture to want to be home for the holidays," he commented. Meanwhile, Bureau of Immigration Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina shared that they are again enforcing the 'No Leave, No Absences' policy during the SEA Games and holiday rush. "Our men have been instructed not to go on leave during the peak season to maximize our manpower," he said. Medina likewise reminded to travelers to "arrive early, at least three hours before your flight," and appealed to travelers to bear with build ups. The appeal came after a video of long lines at the Mactan Cebu International Airport made rounds on social media. "It was an isolated incident," said Medina. "Sudden buildups sometimes happen especially when there are delayed flights that arrive simultaneously, as in the case of the viral video," he explained. "We appeal to everyone to bear with us should there be some build up, which sometimes happen during peak seasons. But you can be assured that processing is now much faster following the numerous improvements we have implemented in our international ports," Medina added. It can be recalled that the Bureau of Immigration recently hired more than 600 Immigration officers to add to their manpower. Medina likewise highlighted the installation of e-gates which he said "lessens the processing by almost 6 times, lowering the regular 45 seconds to at least 8 seconds," “Our goal is to provide fast and smooth immigration inspection for the SEA Games and the upcoming Yuletide season,” said Medina. Morente reportedly instructed Medina to “keep a close eye on the immigration lines in all international airports to ensure they are minimized”.

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PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced that it has deported 294 Chinese nationals in two chartered flights earlier today at the Puerto Princesa International Airport. Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, in a statement, announced the deportation of said aliens who were part of the 329 arrested in 8 different hotels and establishments last September 16 through an operation of Bureau of Immigration Intelligence agents with the assistance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command (WESCOM).

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CEBU, Philippines—Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) rescued 17 suspected human trafficking victims who were illegally recruited to work as household service workers (HSW) in the Middle East. Bureau of Immigration Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the female passengers disguised as tourists were intercepted on Oct. 16 and 17 before they could board their flights to Hongkong and Macau en route to their final destinations in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

“It appears that these victims were recruited by a syndicate which separately booked them on several flights in order to mislead our immigration officers on the purpose of their trip. And that is to work abroad without documentation,” Medina said. He surmised that due to the Bureau of Immigration’s intensified campaign against trafficking, the syndicates are attempting to shift their operations to other exit ports. “They are, however, wrong in assuming that we are less vigilant in guarding our ports outside Manila,” Medina stressed, adding that Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente has already alerted Bureau of Immigration personnel manning the different reports to be extra vigilant following the incident at Mactan airport. Ma. Asuncion Palma-Gil, BI-MCIA’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) head, disclosed that the 17 passengers were offloaded from five different flights and that 13 of them were hired to work in Dubai while the other four were bound for Qatar. “They all admitted having UAE and Qatari visas in their possession and that they were recruited by individuals they only met via Facebook or through their people they know currently working in Dubai and Doha,” Palma-Gil said. She added that the passengers were not familiar with their travel itinerary and what they would do upon arriving in Hongkong and Macau as they would only rely on instructions to be given to them by their handlers. “This is a clear case of human trafficking wherein victims who are jobless and have no visible means of support are sent abroad and put in harm’s way to satisfy the cravings for profit of unscrupulous recruiters,” Palma-Gil added. The women were later turned over to the MCIA Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.

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MANILA, Philippines — Bureau of Immigration agents announced the arrest of a Korean national wanted by authorities in Seoul for swindling two compatriots of more than 100 million won. Bureau of Immigration intelligence officer Bobby Raquepo, chief of the bureau’s fugitive search unit (FSU), identified the captured Korean as 49-year-old Kim Sang Wook, who was arrested on Tuesday in Malvar Street, Malate, Manila.

The FSU operatives were armed with a mission order from Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente who issued the same at the request of the Korean embassy in Manila. Raquepo said that a Korean court had issued an arrest warrant against Kim who is also the subject of a red notice from Interpol. He further disclosed that Kim was a teacher wanted for swindling his victims of 100 million won. Kim was reportedly found defrauding his victims six times by deceiving and promising his victims’ sons that they could be employed as teachers. Investigations revealed that Kim fled to Manila on February 2015 under a tourist visa and has not left the country since then. According to Raquepo, Kim will be deported, considering he is an undesirable alien for being a fugitive from justice. Morente then warned foreign fraudsters and fugitives staying in the country, “We are serious in our drive against undesirable aliens. We will hunt each one down, deport them, and bar them from re-entering the country,” he said. Kim is temporarily detained at the Bureau of Immigration Warden Facility (BIWF) pending deportation proceedings. Meanwhile, Morente lauded the improvements made at the BIWF. BIWF Chief Remiecar Caguiron detailed that the BIWF has undergone a total revamp under her administration. "Apart from improving the quality of our personnel through seminars on jail management and human rights, we have made numerous improvements in the facilities of the detention center," said Caguiron. "We renovated a lot of areas that were already old and dilapidated, and used the open spaces to create a multi-purpose hall," she shared. Caguiron clarified that the BIWF "is not a jail, but a detention center" where erring foreigners are temporarily held pending their deportation. The new facilities were made following calls to improve the conditions of the detention center. "The BIWF has a capacity of less than 200, hence it is quite a challenge especially since our intel has been conducting numerous arrests. The management actually is looking at the possibility of setting up another bigger detention center somewhere north of Luzon. This is part of our long term plans," she shared.

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According to Bureau of Immigration Port Operations Chief Grifton Medina. —An Iranian fugitive wanted for an assault and battery case was intercepted by immigration officers upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Thursday morning. Bureau of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division (POD) Chief Grifton Medina said 31-year-old Zare Bahari Bahareh was immediately excluded hours after she arrived at the NAIA terminal 3 aboard a Cebu Pacific flight from Dubai.

Medina said Zare Bahari, who was a respondent to an assault and battery case in Dagupan, was intercepted by Bureau of Immigration men upon seeing that her name has a hit in their derogatory database. According to Bureau of Immigration NAIA Terminal 3 Head Bradford Allen So, Zare Bahari was excluded as she is the subject of a red notice from Interpol. So likewise disclosed that during the implementation of Zare Bahari’s exclusion, another Iranian national they later identified as Minbashi Moeini Morteza had then approached the Immigration arrival area. "Morteza was unruly. He was able to enter restricted areas at the airport, collect the luggage of Bahari, and sneak into the immigration arrival area to personally fetch his compatriot, surprisingly without an airport pass," So said. He added that Morteza's presence in the arrival area was a brazen case of security breach that they had to immediately report to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA). "Morteza and Zare Bahari were already causing a scene, and had to be forced apart by airport authorities, as Zare Bahari was screaming ‘Jesus kill you all Filipinos!’” So further shared. Morteza was reportedly then taken into custody by airport security personnel. Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente then expressed his dismay towards the incident. “Foreign nationals should respect our laws when they are in our country. Improper behavior and derogatory remarks gave the officer further reason to deny Zare Bahari’s entry,” he stated. He likewise requested airport authorities to conduct an investigation on the illegal entry of Morteza in the airport premises. “This is a clear security breach, and should not be taken lightly. We are deeply concerned as to how this person was able to enter the airport without inspection,” he added.

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According to Bureau of Immigration Port Operations Chief Grifton Medina. —An Iranian fugitive wanted for an assault and battery case was intercepted by immigration officers upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Thursday morning. Bureau of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division (POD) Chief Grifton Medina said 31-year-old Zare Bahari Bahareh was immediately excluded hours after she arrived at the NAIA terminal 3 aboard a Cebu Pacific flight from Dubai.

Medina said Zare Bahari, who was a respondent to an assault and battery case in Dagupan, was intercepted by Bureau of Immigration men upon seeing that her name has a hit in their derogatory database. According to Bureau of Immigration NAIA Terminal 3 Head Bradford Allen So, Zare Bahari was excluded as she is the subject of a red notice from Interpol. So likewise disclosed that during the implementation of Zare Bahari’s exclusion, another Iranian national they later identified as Minbashi Moeini Morteza had then approached the Immigration arrival area. "Morteza was unruly. He was able to enter restricted areas at the airport, collect the luggage of Bahari, and sneak into the immigration arrival area to personally fetch his compatriot, surprisingly without an airport pass," So said. He added that Morteza's presence in the arrival area was a brazen case of security breach that they had to immediately report to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA). "Morteza and Zare Bahari were already causing a scene, and had to be forced apart by airport authorities, as Zare Bahari was screaming ‘Jesus kill you all Filipinos!’” So further shared. Morteza was reportedly then taken into custody by airport security personnel. Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente then expressed his dismay towards the incident. “Foreign nationals should respect our laws when they are in our country. Improper behavior and derogatory remarks gave the officer further reason to deny Zare Bahari’s entry,” he stated. He likewise requested airport authorities to conduct an investigation on the illegal entry of Morteza in the airport premises. “This is a clear security breach, and should not be taken lightly. We are deeply concerned as to how this person was able to enter the airport without inspection,” he added.

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PASAY, Philippines— Bureau of Immigration Chief Grifton Medina."Our immigration officers found numerous inconsistencies in their statements. They all eventually admitted having United Arab Emirates (UAE) visas in their possession and that their final destination is Dubai where they were recruited to work as household service workers.". Four undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) hired to work as household service workers (HSW) in Dubai were stopped at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for attempting to leave for Bangkok in the guise of being tourists, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

“We are in the midst of an intensified campaign against human trafficking, thus we are warning aspiring OFWs to comply with the rules and requirements for overseas workers,” said Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente in a statement. “We are likewise warning recruiters and other cohorts not to attempt to assist or vouch for illegal workers, as you will face human trafficking cases which could lead to life imprisonment,” he added. The Bureau of Immigration chief issued the statement after immigration officers intercepted four women at the NAIA Terminal 3 who pretended they were going to Thailand as vacationing tourists. Bureau of Immigration port operations division chief Grifton Medina reported that the women were about to board a flight to Bangkok last Oct. 9 when they were intercepted by members of the bureau’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU). “They pretended that they all knew each other as they were co-workers and friends,” said Medina. He added that a woman who allegedly recruited the workers and was supposed to vouch for them and accompany them in their trip was also barred from leaving. They were all turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for investigation and filing of appropriate charges, Medina said. Bureau of Immigration TCEU chief Timotea Barizo said the women initially claimed to be employed at the travel agency owned by their recruiter, who also arranged their trip to Bangkok. “During immigration inspection, the recruiter would act as the spokesperson for the entire group. She kept on answering for everyone, and has everyone’s documentation. This caused our officers to further doubt their story, hence they verified and eventually discovered the deceit,” said Barizo. “We are noticing here a pattern where trafficking victims are being made to appear as employees of their recruiters. But such scheme will not work anymore, luma na yan, we knew of this trick a long time ago,” Barizo said. The names of the passengers were not divulged to a prohibition in the anti-trafficking law.

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