Riyadh, SAUDI ARABIA – The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office or POLO organized a forum on Human Trafficking held at Philippine Embassy Chancery yesterday afternoon (28 October 2011). The guest during the meeting was no other than Associate Commissioner Atty. Abdullah S. Mangotara of the Bureau of Immigration.
According to the 2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, Philippine men, women, and girls were trafficked for labor and sexual exploitation to other countries and used Philippines as transit country for victims trafficked from China.
Commissioner Mangotara explained that in accordance to PNoy’s directive to combat human trafficking, immigration personnel’s assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) are doubled as well as conducting thorough intelligence gatherings by the bureau’s Intelligence Division.
“Pnoy is not only serious in eradicating human trafficking at the airport but also eliminating corruption at the Bureau of Immigration more particularly those personnel assigned in the airport in connivance with illegal recruiters and syndicates operating around our major airports in the country”, Commissioner Mangotara added.
The Commissioner informed the participants to report any suspicious and verified information of those corrupt BI personnel assigned in the airports.
It was discussed during the forum that undocumented OFW’s who were able to enter the Kingdom and work illegally using business and visit visas assisted by unscrupulous recruiters and immigration personnel if proven guilty – is against Republic Act 9208 known as “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003” more particularly Section 5, Paragraph “d” and “e” of the mentioned law.
DFA Undersecretary Rafael Seguis asked Associate Commissioner Mangotara to visit Saudi Arabia as part of the government’s information campaign on Human Trafficking. He is also scheduled to visit United Arab Emirates after Saudi Arabia. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Bureau of Immigration are focal members of the Inter-Agency Council on Trafficking (IACAT).
IACAT is an inter-agency panel created by the Government for the purpose of prosecuting persons accused of human trafficking.
In Year 2006 the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) increased the minimum monthly wage from $ 200 to $ 400 and raised the minimum age from 18 to 23, and it required prospective domestic workers (Filipino Household Service Worker) to get a certificate of competency from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration.
In 2007, the government’s Interagency Council Against Trafficking established its first Ninoy Aquino International Airport anti-trafficking task force.
Associate Commissioner Mangotara further explained that “everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country but in order to prevent human trafficking, the government had no choice but to imposed some requirements like Affidavit of Support for Filipino travelers and Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) for OFWs.”
IACAT is represented by Department Secretaries of Department of Justice as Chairperson, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Foreign Affairs, and Heads of DOLE, BI, PNP, POEA, National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women and representatives from End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking (ECPAT), Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons and OFW Sector. – by: BongA