MANILA -- Sixteen overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) reportedly victims of human trafficking syndicate have been barred by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) from leaving the country.

Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison said the victims were intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 on Monday before they would be able to board their flights bound for Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Immigration personnel stopped the Filipina passengers after presenting questionable travel documents and giving inconsistent answers when asked on the real purpose on their trip.

Mison said that eleven of them are bound for Saudi Arabia via Kuwait and Emirates Airlines with discrepancies in their employment papers, visas and overseas employment certificates (OEC).

The passengers, upon interrogation, informed immigration officers led by Raymond Nell Ganias that they are leaving to work in Saudi as household servants but under their OEC their job will be food attendant.

On the other hand, the other five victims are bound for Dubai via Thai Airways for Bangkok to work as OFWs in UAE.

However, upon inspection of their documents authorities found that the two of them are actually bound for Lebanon and Jordan via Qatar Airways.

He added that three of them have no visas aside from their photocopied UAE employment visas and also have discrepancies in their employment documents.

During interrogation, the 16 victims disclosed that they were “hired” by an airport personnel named “Rocky” to work as domestic helpers and waitresses in Lebanon.

They added that their travel documents were also facilitated by the said person two months ago.

Mison revealed that the arrest was made after a tipped from a “concerned black lady” about the alleged plan of human trafficking syndicates to use the NAIA terminal for their operations.

The BI chief explained that the passengers’ names were not divulged as the anti-human trafficking act prohibits the public disclosure of the names of human traffickers and their victims. (FP/Sunnex)