BI uncovers passport scam by illegal recruiters

MANILA, Philippines – A scheme by illegal recruiters providing domestic helpers with passports pre-stamped for departure to South Asian countries was uncovered by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) on May 5.

In a statement released Wednesday, May 21, the bureau said at least 3 Filipino domestic helpers bound for the Middle East but with connecting flights to Malaysia and Thailand were intercepted by immigration officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). 

BI Commissioner Siegfred Mison urged airport officials to probe reports that some of the airport personnel are helping the illegal recruiters by providing them with their company IDs. This allows the departing OFWs to enter the restricted areas of the airport. 

Two of the intercepted domestic helpers were caught wearing a fake monthly Duty Free Philippines visitor’s pass. Baby Rose Pilar Joson and Mariane Hermoso Arro, aged 27 and 21, respectively, were caught last May 5 at around 2 am.

On April 28, 43-year-old Evangeline Domingo Torres was also caught with a fake passport departure stamp and was consequently prevented by immigration authorities from boarding her Cebu Pacific flight.

Hired by illegal recruiters

Lawyer Floro Bolato Jr, head of BI’s travel control and enforcement unit, said the 43-year-old Torres admitted that she never went through formalities required by the immigration bureau for foreign travel as her passport was stamped hours before her scheduled departure.

Upon probing, Torres said she was told by her recruiter that “someone” had already paid her terminal fee and that she merely had to go straight to the boarding gate. Torres was bound for Qatar to work as a domestic helper, after a supposed one-day stay in Malaysia.

The younger Joson and Arro, on the other hand, claimed to have secured their airport passes from a male airport employee who was reportedly “wearing a mask.” Both were bound for Lebanon with a connecting flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

Mison ordered a crackdown on the alleged rampant use of fraudulent airport passes and immigration departure stamps. – Rappler.com