THE BUREAU of Immigration (BI) on Sunday warned the public against human trafficking schemes promising employment in Malta and other Mediterranean countries, citing a recent increase of victims bound for Malta.
“We call on the public to exercise caution in dealing with recruiters,” Immigration Commissioner Norman G. Tansingco said in a statement.
“Several investigations have shown the exploitation of domestic and foreign victims in the Mediterranean, and this has long been a cause of concern.”
The BI said it intercepted two human trafficking victims bound for Malta on April 29, who posed as friends traveling as tourists bound for Bangkok, Thailand.
They were unaware that their supposed working visas for Malta had been canceled before leaving the Philippines.
The victims were turned over to the country’s council against human trafficking for assistance in filing criminal charges against their recruiters.
Last month, the inter-agency council against human trafficking said it would enhance its cooperation with partner government agencies to apprehend more human traffickers.
The council is composed of the Department of Justice (DoJ), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Commission on Filipino Overseas.
In the first two months of the year, 57 departures from the country’s international airports were tagged as possible cases of human trafficking, based on data from the Bureau of Immigration.
“The BI understands being enticed by greener pastures abroad, but by not going through the correct process, aspiring migrant workers risk getting abused overseas,” it said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez