SENATOR Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday revealed a new modus that facilitates the outbound trafficking of Filipinos into Myanmar, carried out by individuals who have alleged connections to Bureau of Immigration officials or airport terminal personnel.
During the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality hearing, the senator presented alias Paulo, who was illegally recruited to work in a telemarketing company in Mae Sot, Thailand. Later, he learned that it was, in fact, for a crypto-scamming job in Myanmar.
Paulo explained that his recruiter, one identified as Laisa Magallanes, told him that an “escort” would help with immigration to expedite his departure from the Philippines. He was also told that P30,000 would be deducted from his salary for this service.
“Kahit hindi dumadaan ng immigration counter, natatakan ang passport ni Paulo ng official exit stamp ng BI. May umasikaso sa kanya sa airport, hindi siya pinapila sa immigration, at binigyan siya ng pekeng ID ng WHSmith, isang tindahan sa NAIA Terminal 3, para magpanggap siyang empleyado. Biglang natakot si Paulo sa prosesong pinapatahak sa kanya, kaya’t sinabihan niya ang recruiter na di na siya tutuloy,” Hontiveros explained.
“Para itong pastillas part 2, pero mas malala at mas mapusok. May kinalaman din ba ang mga airport security o personnel? Nasa bulsa at kakuntsaba ba ng mga BI o airport officials ang mga illegal recruiter? Ang sakit na napapahamak ang napakaraming Pilipino sa ibang bansa dahil sa kapwa nating Pilipino na nananamantala dahil sa pansariling interes,” the senator added.
Last week, Hontiveros, the author of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022, gave a privilege speech about alias Rita, and 11 other OFWs, who were promised jobs in Thailand, but were trafficked into Myanmar to become crypto scammers of a Chinese syndicate based in Shwe Kokko, a town in the Kayin State of Myanmar.
In the hearing, Hontiveros also called attention to the OFWs who are still in Myanmar, many of whom are physically abused by their Chinese employers. She introduced alias Baby, a trafficked Filipino who almost died in the hands of her Chinese employer in Shwe Kokko.
“Hindi katanggap-tanggap ang sinapit ni Baby. Kuryente, baton, latigo ang sinapit niya at ng kanyang mga kasama. Marami pa sila ang nasa Myanmar pa at kailangang-kailangan ang agarang aksyon ng ating gobyerno,” Hontiveros said.
The senator said that it is unacceptable that even after all the Senate inquiries into human trafficking — from the pastillas scam to the minors trafficked into Syria — unscrupulous individuals still continue committing crimes.
“Bakit kaya ang lakas ng loob ng mga illegal recruiter at ng mga tila kasabwat na immigration o airport officials? May protektor ba sila? Kasama pa ba dito ang original pastillas gang? I want to know if these are the same players or if this is a new syndicate with a new game. Bakit wala silang kadala-dala?” Hontiveros asked.
“Unfortunately, many Filipinos go through this illegal process, no matter how dubious, because of desperation. Sa hirap ng buhay sa Pilipinas at sa patuloy na pagtaas ng mga bilihin habang walang pag-usad ang sweldo ng mga manggagawa, hindi sila masisisi kung pinili nilang dumaan sa butas ng karayom para lang may maibigay sa kani-kanilang pamilya. This is also a challenge for us in government not only to clean up our immigration system, but also to urgently provide adequate and dignified jobs and livelihood for every Filipino,” Hontiveros concluded.