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BI: Social media ridicule will not stop us from fighting human trafficking

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday vowed that it will continue to intensify campaign against human trafficking despite the negative remarks it received on social media.

Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said he instructed the agency’s personnel to keep on doing their duties with “dignity and patriotism.”

“Social media ridicule will not deter us from performing our mandate to combat human trafficking in our ports,” he said in a statement.

“There will be no letup in our campaign so long as these traffickers and illegal recruiters continue to prey on our countrymen, who are sent to work abroad without proper documents and protection from the government,” he added.

Tansingco said they received reports of passengers being “unruly during inspection, making it difficult for the officers to conduct their work.”

He also said that he reminded the officers to conduct their work professionally, adding that he is requesting the passengers to return the respect towards them.

“I have asked them to stay focused on their jobs, because what we are doing is to protect our countrymen from being subjected to abuse and maltreatment in foreign lands. Kung may kasalanan ka, unang-una ako sa magkakaso sa 'yo. Pero kung wala kang kasalanan, ipaglalaban kita,” he said.

The story of freelance writer Cham Tanteras went viral on social media after she failed to catch her flight due to a lengthy interview at the immigration counter where she was also asked to show a yearbook last December.

Another passenger, Rie, had a similar experience last January. When the immigration officer found out that she had previously worked in Dubai, she was asked a lot of questions about her experience as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW).

Meanwhile, a BI agent asked a seafarer at least P150,000 in exchange for an escort service to help him board his plane, according to Chino Gaston’s report on "24 Oras" earlier.

The BI chief, on the other hand, said the agency also stopped another human trafficking attempt with the interception of Filipino passengers allegedly illegally recruited to Dubai through Hong Kong.

He said the passengers posed as tourists bound for Hong Kong but eventually admitted to being recruited as household service workers in Dubai.

"The passengers presented certificates of local employment at a law firm, so as to intimidate and trick the immigration into thinking that they will be travelling for tourism purposes. They later confessed that a certain Helen promised them jobs as HSWs in Dubai to receive a salary of AED1600," he said.

The victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance in filing cases against their recruiters, he added.

The BI chief then reiterated his reminder to the public not to fall prey to illegal recruiters and human traffickers.—Richa Noriega/AOL, GMA Integrated News