Sunday, June 15, 2008

Immigration Operatives on Guard for Human Trafficking

By Tetch Torres

From the Inquirer:

MANILA, Philippines -- Immigration operatives are on guard at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) following attempts by international syndicates to use Manila and Kuala Lumpur as transit point for human smuggling.

Immigration chief Marcelino C. Libanan ordered the NAIA-BI operatives to be vigilant after five passengers from Malaysia bound for Vancouver and Amsterdam were found to be carrying fake travel documents in a span of three weeks.

Libanan said "there is a pattern in the syndicate's movements and the frequency is rising that it would not escape notice."

"We are sending advisories to our Malaysian counterparts on this string of arrests of passengers that slipped their area," he said, adding that international cooperation is essential to combating human trafficking.

On Saturday, NAIA-BI personnel intercepted three Sri Lankans with bogus Malaysian and Singaporean passports as they were about to board a Royal Dutch Airlines flight for Amsterdam hours after they arrived as transit passengers from Kuala Lumpur.

One of the passengers, identified as Vengtespura Rao Appalanaidu, managed to escape while his passport and those of his companions were being examined at the airline counter. But airport authorities found Vengtespura Monday still inside NAIA. Vengtespura and the three Sri Lankans were sent back to Malaysia.

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