MANILA, Philippines — Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente admitted on Tuesday that he was ashamed and disappointed about the alleged involvement of BI officers in the trafficking of Filipino women to Syria.
Morente thanked victims of human trafficking for coming out about their experiences during a Senate women’s committee meeting but expressed disappointment about the possible involvement of BI officers.
“At ako po ay, sa totoo lang, nahihiya (Honestly, I feel ashamed)—I am really disappointed and frustrated about the involvement of BI personnel in these nefarious activities, however, I am thankful that these people are exposed because they give the bureau a bad name,” he said.
“It is unfair also to the many good and committed immigration officers who perform their jobs religiously and faithfully, especially our personnel who are involved in the activities of the inter-agency council for anti-trafficking,” he added.
Four overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), through the office of panel head Senator Risa Hontiveros, have alleged that their recruiters allegedly pay some immigration officers for their seamless exit out of the country.
READ: Victim bares trafficking of Filipinas ‘aided by corrupt’ BI officers
READ: ‘Mamamatay na ako:’ OFW trafficked to Syria forced by recruiters to abort baby
According to their testimonies, their recruiters promised them a job in Dubai but they were eventually brought to Syria and “sold” to their employers there.
During the hearing, Morente provided the names of the BI officers involved in the stamping of the exit documents of the four OFWs.
READ: ‘Pastillas’ scam ‘mafia’ tagged in trafficking of Filipino women
DOJ help sought
The BI chief also said that the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs under the Department of Foreign Affairs has already referred to them 44 other names of possible trafficked Filipino women.
“We have also identified the names of those people, those immigration officers who stamped the departure clearance to the mentioned Filipinas,” he said.
“They are now the subject also of a fact-finding committee that I created and I have requested the DOJ (Department of Justice) to help in the investigation of this,” he added.
Hontiveros lauded Morente’s initiative.
“Yun naman po ang gusto ng committee na manguna ang BI sa pagtukoy, pag-imbestiga, at pagsingin ng accountability nitong mga tiwaling kawani at opisyal sa inyong bureau. So mabuti po,” she said.
(That’s what the committee wants, for the BI to take initiative in identifying, investigating and holding to account corrupt officers and officials of the bureau. So this is good to hear.)
“We will continue to do that,” Morente then said.
The BI commissioner also assured his “all-out” support for the investigation being done by Hontiveros’ committee.
“Kaisa ako sa hangarin na mapanagot at maparusahan ang mga mapapatunayan na involved sa trafficking of Filipino women,” he added.
(I am one with you in this desire to have those involved in the trafficking of Filipino women punished.)
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