4 underage OFWs intercepted at Clark International Airport

CLARK FREEPORT — Four female overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were intercepted by officers of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Clark International Airport for presenting travel documents making them appear older than they really are.

According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, the four OFWs, whose names are withheld following anti-trafficking laws, attempted to board a Qatar Airways flight to Doha to work as household service workers (HSWs).

In a report to Morente, BI Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) Officers Clarissa Bartolome and Kristan Balanquit stated that the victims all hail from the Southern part of the country. They were reportedly referred by primary inspection officers for further assessment upon noticing inconsistencies in their responses.

“The officers noted that the four gave highly inconsistent statements about their age and were unable to provide basic details about themselves,” said Morente.

According to the Bureau, the minimum age to work as HSWs in the Middle East as set by the government remains at 24.

“Many trafficking victims are given fraudulently acquired documents to make them appear older than they really are for them to qualify to work abroad,” said Morente. “These policies are in place to protect them from harm. This is a form of human trafficking, and their victims are often minors and underaged women,” he added.

The victims were turned over to the Clark International Airport Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance in filing cases against their recruiters.

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