Filipinos are urged to exercise extreme caution in the face of the ongoing conflict in Myanmar, as four individuals who fell victim to illegal recruitment sought repatriation back to the Philippines, Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced on Wednesday.
The victims, whose names are withheld for their protection, arrived in Manila from Yangon, Myanmar via a Thai Airways flight on November 21.
According to the accounts provided by the four passengers, they were unable to obtain proper working visas, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) registration during their time in Laukkai, Myanmar.
BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco disclosed that all four passengers initially left the country in the guise of being tourists, but were later on recruited by their foreigner acquaintances to fly to Myanmar to work in different job positions.
According to Tansingco, two of the victims were recruited through a job posting on Facebook as Customer Service Representatives in Myanmar.
“Upon arriving, they were coerced into engaging in online scamming activities for an undisclosed Chinese company,” he said. “These individuals were subjected to physical abuse, and poor working conditions,” he added.
Tansingco then expressed deep concern over these incidents, stressing the importance of heightened vigilance during the present situation in Myanmar.
4 Filipino trafficking victims in Myanmar arrive in PH
“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has classified Myanmar’s conflict to be at Crisis Alert Level 2, also known as the Restricted Phase. This means that only documented Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are allowed to travel to Myanmar, with stringent protocols and safeguards in place,” the BI Chief said.
Tansingco further expressed his dismay towards illegal recruitment of Filipinos in times of crisis.
“Illegal recruitment not only violates our laws but also undermines the rights and welfare of Filipino workers,” he said. “Aspiring OFWs are urged to verify the legitimacy of job offers, ensure proper documentation, and seek guidance from licensed recruitment agencies before applying abroad,” he added.
All four passengers were assisted by officials from the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), DFA, and OWWA.
Meanwhile, A blacklisted Chinese national was arrested by immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.
Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers identified the man as Zhou Xingxing, 31, who attempted to depart for Guangzhou, China on Sunday.