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Sunday, August 8, 2010

RP immigration authorities bar departure of over 400 Filipinos

In an unprecedented case, more than 400 Filipinos who failed to submit complete travel documents and requirements were barred from leaving the country by the Bureau of Immigration last week, on suspicion they would be trafficked.

In a phone interview with GMANews.TV on Sunday, BI airport operations division head Arvin Santos said the development stemmed from the "revitalized" Immigration efforts to curb human trafficking, pursuant to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima's directive.

The BI bared the departure of about 284 people at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport's three terminals, more than 100 people at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Pampanga, and 18 people at the Mactan International Airport in Cebu province.

"This is brought about by the revitalized anti-trafficking measures of the BI and the IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking)," said Santos.

Last week, the BI announced the major revamp of its officials assigned to airports. Those who were removed were supposedly conniving with human trafficking syndicates. [See: 4 immigration officials relieved over alleged anomalies]

Justice Undersecretary Jose Salazar, who heads the IACAT, said "the top-to-bottom movements being implemented at the BI were part of the [Department of Justice's] unwavering and no-nonsense campaign to eradicate human trafficking elements, especially at the country's main airport."

The US State Department has placed the Philippines on its Tier 2 rank of human trafficking cases. The country is in danger of losing some $250-million in aid from the US State Department if it does not improve its prosecution of human trafficking suspects by February 2011

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