Two women who pretended to be seafarers were stopped by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at Clark International Airport in the Philippines while they were on their way to Laos to work at a scam call center.
According to the BI, the women were instructed to pose as sea-based overseas Filipino workers who had been recruited to work in Thailand. They presented fraudulent documents which raised suspicion among immigration officers, reported the country’s Bureau of Immigration.
Immigration Commissioner Norman G. Tansingco said, “The modus operandi here is for the victims to initially fly to Thailand where they would then board their connecting flight to Laos.”
The victims have now been handed over to the Philippines’ Council against Trafficking, where they will receive assistance to pursue legal action against their recruiters.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., along with other ASEAN member state leaders, has pledged to take a stronger stance against human trafficking, particularly in Laos and Cambodia, as the two nations have emerged as hotspots for such crimes.
In 2022, the Philippines Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) launched an official investigation into the trafficking of Filipino citizens to Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar to work for scam call centers. This year, the BI reported an increase in Filipinos being trafficked to Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar under the same pretense.
In the previous year, authorities in Bokeo Province provided assistance to over 1,000 individuals who had fallen victim to online human trafficking. Due to its geographic proximity, with Myanmar to the north and Thailand to the south, the province has become a hotspot for human trafficking and cyber scam operations.
The Filipino government in Laos has also warned its citizens to maintain caution when coming to work in Laos, alerting them against applying to any unverified employment opportunities in Laos or its neighboring countries which could make them fall prey to illegal recruitment and human trafficking schemes.