Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 13) – Eight rescued Filipino victims of human trafficking in Myanmar have returned home, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported on Monday.
Half are males recruited online from Dubai to supposedly work as customer support representatives in Thailand. From Thailand, they were instead brought to Myanmar where they were forced to trick people into investing in cryptocurrency, the DFA said.
On the other hand, the four women were detained for supposedly entering Myanmar illegally from Thailand.
DFA said the victims arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) early Monday morning.
In November 2022, Senator Risa Hontiveros said some Filipinos were promised jobs in Thailand, but were instead sent to Myanmar to become “crypto scammers” of an alleged Chinese syndicate.
In early January, she again reported that Filipinos abroad are being victims of human trafficking in the same manner, but this time in Cambodia.
The senator said immigration personnel or a syndicate that is able to operate inside the NAIA may be involved in the illegal activity.
Meanwhile, in a statement, DFA said crossing the Myanmar-Thai Friendship Bridge is illegal as the border closed for nearly three years, and was only reopened this month for citizens of the two countries.
“The legal entry points for foreigners – including Filipinos – are through Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw airports,” DFA added.
The agency also reminded the public to be “cautious of spurious jobs offered through social media and avoid falling victim to illegal recruitment and human trafficking schemes.”
As of December 2022, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said 45 human trafficking victims in Myanmar, 31 in Laos, and 22 from Cambodia were rescued and given assistance.
She said assistance include psychosocial counseling, financial assistance, and the filing of cases against their recruiters in coordination with the Philippine National Police.