THEY were told to act as a group of friends going on a tour abroad and attending a prenuptial shoot of two of their companions. But the ruse did not fool agents at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Central Visayas, a member of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking - MCIA Task Force, arrested Rea Casas, 32, her brother Kevin Casas, 23, both from Marikina City, and Maricris Ria Delgado, 25, from Antipolo City, last Tuesday morning, Sept. 10, 2019.
The three were together with four of their victims when they were arrested while waiting to board their flight to Taiwan. They were stopped from boarding, by members of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) travel control and enforcement unit, for allegedly violating laws against illegal recruitment and qualified human trafficking.
According to lawyer Niño Rodriguez, investigator-on-case, some of the victims said they were traveling to Dubai via Taiwan with the three suspects. They were to meet the Casas siblings who will assist, escort and facilitate their exit from the country to Taiwan where they will stay for two days to wait for their tourist visas for Dubai.
“Once they secure their tourist visas, they will fly to Dubai and work there as house helpers. They will just process their working visas there,” Rodriguez said, based on the victims’ accounts.
Rodriguez said investigation also showed that Rea Casas is a frequent traveler and has an active status as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Dubai.
“Usually those who work and are used as escorts or carriers are those frequent travelers because they could not easily be detected. In most cases, they can only be detected for illegal recruitment if they bring with them first-time travelers who, during the interview, are not well-versed on their activities and whereabouts in another country. Those were the inconsistencies that the BI found,” he said.
Part of the briefing made by Rea Casas to the victims, Rodriguez said, is that the seven will act as a group of friends going for a tour abroad and for a prenuptial shoot of Kevin and Maricris Ria.
“In that case, pag OFW, tapos walang trabaho dito sa Pilipinas, tapos bigla kang mag tour sa labas, it’s somehow a red flag,” he said. (An OFW who does not have work in the Philippines but goes on tour abroad, that somehow raises a red flag.)
He also said some of the victims were former OFWs.
“One of the victims, tumakas from a previous employer kasi muntik daw i-molestiya. In that case, the victim was not able to finish the contract, so parang na blacklist siya and could not apply to other legal agencies since wala siyang clearance,” Rodriguez said. (One of the victims escaped from a previous employer to avoid getting molested. This person was blacklisted and could not apply to legal agencies for lack of clearance from the previous employer.)
Lawyer Tomas Enrile, NBI 7 Director, said that, as per verification and certification with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the three arrested suspects are not licensed to hire or recruit and deploy overseas contract workers.
The victims were temporarily placed under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development 7 while their return to their respective provinces is being facilitated.
The suspects were brought to the NBI while their documents for transfer to the Cebu City Jail were being prepared.
They will face charges for qualified human trafficking in persons and illegal recruitment involving economic sabotage before the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office. (WBS)