Seven more Filipino victims of human trafficking were repatriated from Myanmar, according to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) on Wednesday.
The victims were rescued through the efforts of the Philippine government agencies and were assisted upon their arrival on April 3.
Last October 2022, the victims left the Philippines on various dates posing as tourists but with the intention to work as customer service representatives, the IACAT said.
The agency said the Filipino victims were transported to Myanmar to work in call centers engaged in online scamming and other illegal activities.
It said these victims experienced difficulties in Myanmar including “confiscation of their passports, forced labor with different employers, beatings, and electrocution for failure to meet sales quotas.”
The IACAT warned the public on this ongoing modus of human trafficking which targets “educated, professional, well-travelled, and tech savvy individuals” to work in regional call centers engaged in online scamming and fraudulent activities.
The agency said working abroad requires documentation, legal processes, and clearances from government agencies that were designed to protect Filipinos from human trafficking and illegal recruitment.
“Filipinos who leave the country as tourists, but in reality, have the intention to work abroad, deliberately mislead the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and other IACAT member-agencies to avoid detection without complying with government requirements. This is one of the reasons for the strict implementation of the guidelines on departure formalities for international-bound Filipino passengers,” the IACAT said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Human trafficking is considered modern-day slavery and represents the world's third largest and most profitable crime industry with victims numbering in the millions across the globe. As such, we underscore to the public that the fight against human trafficking is not simply a concern of the Philippine government, but of the entire nation and the world,” it added.
The BI earlier said only 0.06% of total departing passengers on an everyday basis get offloaded from their flights due to being victims of human trafficking, illegal recruitment, or inconsistencies in their travel documents.
It also said it was working double time to ensure that its personnel performed their jobs in accordance with the guidelines on departure formalities, especially on communicating with travelers.—Richa Noriega/AOL, GMA Integrated News