DOJ directs NBI to probe NAIA human smuggling ring

DOJ directs NBI to probe NAIA human smuggling ring

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the activities of rogue airport employees including Bureau of Immigration personnel allegedly behind the trafficking of Filipino workers who were forced into cryptocurrency investment scams in Myanmar.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Thursday he has already ordered the NBI to investigate it, and the probe will include uncovered information in the Senate investigation on the controversy. “We’re making it the starting point of the investigation because the hearings were very revealing as to the modus operandi,” he added, stressing that no immigration personnel or official will be exempted from liability if found to be culpable by the probe.

During the recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family relations and Gender Equality, a victim said they were provided with fake official airport access stamps to skirt screening by the Bureau of Immigration.

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco himself has urged airport authorities to investigate the rising cases of attempted trafficking involving fake entry passes. He has also ordered BI Port Operations Division chief Carlos Capulong to coordinate with the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) to request a thorough investigation of the issue.

The concern came after airport security and police intercepted last month three victims who reportedly used fake airport access passes and pretending to be employees of various airport concessionaires, to enter the boarding gates. Upon closer inspection by airport security, it was also found out that their passports and boarding passes likewise contained counterfeit immigration stamps.

The BI also received a report that last November 16, another female victim was intercepted by aviation security personnel. The culprit, bound for Kuala Lumpur, presented a fake access pass and attempted to enter the employees’ entrance. Her passport and boarding pass also contained fake stamps, which she said, were only given to her outside airport premises.

Tansingco said previous victims may have used the employees’ entrance to evade strict departure assessment, to depart the country illegally to work in countries like Myanmar.

In a related development, Senator Risa Hontiveros has urged the government to come out with long-term solutions on human trafficking, through cooperation initiatives among the members of the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN), and other countries whose residents were victimized by the scam.

“Moving forward, there have to be clear transborder solutions. The Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia are bound by the ASEAN convention against trafficking in persons; there must be tighter coordination among them to suppress this crime,” she said in a statement.

The lady Senator said it would also be better if there is cooperation and coordination with the US, Germany, United Kingdom, since many of their citizens also fall victims to these scams.

Hontiveros also urged government agencies like the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to coordinate with their counterparts to ensure the safe return of the Filipino victims to their country.

During the hearing last Tuesday, the Filipino workers sent to Myanmar claimed they were given fake airport employee identification cards and asked to wear uniforms of airport concessionaires so they can skip immigration.

Manila International Airport officials said they don’t discount the possibility that a concessionaire might be involved in the syndicate and they are still investigating the case.