BI on ‘heightened alert’ vs human trafficking during ‘Undas’

By: Christia Marie Ramos - INQUIRER.net October 28,2019 - 06:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines — To prevent human trafficking during “Undas,” the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has placed its personnel on heightened alert amid the ongoing influx of passengers at airports nationwide.

“Be sure that our immigration officers are always vigilant and on the lookout for these travelers who are victims of these fraud syndicates,” BI chief Jaime Morente said in his directive to BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina.

Citing intelligence reports, Morente said human smuggling syndicates might use the occasion to again use Manila as a transit point for illegal aliens who would want to enter other countries where they want to settle and work illicitly.

Medina assured that immigration officers manning immigration counters were directed to exercise a more careful and meticulous screening of arriving and departing passengers and not to be distracted by the big volume of travelers who would always swarm at airports during holidays.

“They were instructed to always practice what they have been trained to do and that is to implement to the letter our rules and regulations on the conduct of immigration formalities for travelers who enter and exit our ports,” Medina said.

Nov. 1 is All Saints’ Day and Nov. 2 is All Souls’ Day — both holidays collectively called “Undas” in the Philippines, when thousands of people return to their provinces to honor their departed relatives in cemeteries.

To prevent Filipinos victimized by traffickers from leaving, Medina said strict departure formalities would be followed.

Meanwhile, arriving foreigners would be thoroughly screened to make sure of the validity and authenticity of their visas and travel documents, he added.

Medina also explained that BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) stationed at the NAIA and other ports would be responsible for detecting human trafficking victims and illegal aliens.

Assisting them are members of the border control and intelligence unit (BCIU) who perform intelligence and counter-intelligence duties, including intercepting and apprehending fugitives, international criminals, and other persons with derogatory records who might try to enter or flee the country, Medina added.

The increase of arrivals and departures is expected before All Saint’s Day on Nov. 1, the BI said.

“There was a 6.3 percent increase of arrivals from 2017 to 2018 during Undas, and we also saw a 10 percent increase of departures on the same period,” Medina said.

“We’re expecting roughly the same percent increase for this year,” he added.

Likewise, Medina, assured the public that “lines will remain manageable despite the surge” due to the agency’s added manpower and use of electronic gates.

/atm

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TAGS: BI, heightened alert, human trafficking, Undas

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