The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has issued a warning about a new modus used by human traffickers that targets Filipinos who are planning to work abroad as household workers.

The warning was issued by the bureau on Monday after two female passengers, aged 36 and 37, were intercepted by officers from its travel control and enforcement unit at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 on April 14.

The two victims claimed that they were Muslim pilgrims planning to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to participate in Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca. They stated that they had recently converted to Islam and intended to stay in Saudi Arabia for 7 days.

However, upon further investigation, the immigration officers found numerous inconsistencies in their statements, and the victims later admitted that their documents were fabricated. They revealed that they were recruited via Facebook by a woman who processed their visas and tickets and instructed them to pose as Muslims to evade immigration inspection.

“These traffickers will stop at nothing to earn from their racket. They have even abused religion to evade immigration inspection,” said Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco, expressing his disappointment with the new scheme used by human traffickers.

The two victims have been turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation, and to initiate cases against their recruiter.

Bi said the incident highlights the ongoing issue of human trafficking in the Philippines and the need for heightened vigilance by authorities to combat this illegal activity.

The BI continues to urge Filipinos who are planning to work abroad to be cautious and verify the authenticity of their job offers and travel documents to avoid falling victim to human trafficking schemes. The public is encouraged to report any suspected cases of human trafficking to the authorities for immediate action.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.