The Bureau of Immigration (BI) confirmed that one of their officers allegedly extorted money from an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in exchange for an escort service to help him board a flight to France.
Seafarer JC Manganti reported to Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco after he was offloaded or not permitted to board the plane by the BI at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) three times, according to Chino Gaston’s “24 Oras Weekend” report on Saturday.
He also showed his text messages with the BI employee, who asked for P150,000 in exchange for the escort service.
After verification, Tansingco confirmed that it was the agency’s employee.
The BI said that Manganti should have been allowed to board the plane on his second try since his documents were already complete.
“Iyong identity ng person na tinuturo niya, we saw po na kasama po ito talaga sa roster ng ating employees. We will also be pursuing administrative cases against the employees,” BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said.
(The identity of the person he is accusing is actually included in the roster of our employees. We will also be pursuing administrative cases against the employees.)
Manganti said he would file a complaint against the BI employee.
“Para mawala na din iyan kasi hindi lang naman po isa ang nadadamay, halos lahat ng immigration, nasisira po sa isa eh,” he said.
(This is to get rid of them because it is not just one person who is affected, but almost all immigration officers were affected by this incident.)
At present, the assignments for the immigration counters are drawn every day to help prevent illegal activities such as extortion.
“Ngayon magho-Holy Week next week, mag-oopisina ako sa airport. 'Pag na-observe n'yong antagal na ng tao, iyong pasahero sa harap, call n'yo iyong attention ng I.O., 'Oh ano 'yan, ba't matagal diyan?’” Tansingco said.
(This Holy Week and next week, I will be at the airport. When you observe the passenger in front of you is taking so long, call the attention of the immigration officer: “What's that, why is it taking so long?")
The BI maintained that they are strictly monitoring travelers to prevent human trafficking of Filipinos in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
According to the Department of Justice, from January to February 2023 alone, the BI deferred the departure of 6,788 out of 1,056,247 Filipinos.
Of this number, 57 were referred to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) as potential victims of human trafficking.
“The rest were deferred for other reasons, such as incomplete, improper, or misrepresented documents. Many of them would have also been vulnerable to human trafficking had they been allowed to depart,” the IACAT said in a statement on Thursday.
The IACAT is in the process of revising the departure formalities “to better reflect current trends and plug the gaps that arose along the way,” it added. — Richa Noriega/VBL, GMA Integrated News