17 suspected human trafficking victims rescued at Mactan-Cebu airport
MANILA, Philippines — Authorities have rescued 17 suspected victims of human trafficking at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), the Bureau of Immigrations (BI) said Monday.
The BI said the victims were intercepted on October 16 and 17 before they could board their flights bound for Hong Kong and Macau en route to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 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,” BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said in a statement.
Out of the 17 passengers, BI said 13 were recruited to work in Dubai while the other four were hired to work in 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,” BI-MCIA’s travel and control and enforcement unit head Ma. Asuncio Palma-Gil said, as quoted in the same statement.
Palma-Gil also noted the victims were not familiar with their travel itinerary and were told to only rely on instructions to be given by their handlers.
BI assured the victims were turnover to the MCIA Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation. /je
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