Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 2) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the alleged trafficking of Filipino workers to Myanmar, a scheme suspected to involve immigration and airport personnel.
“We’re already investigating that. We’re asking the NBI to go into it, investigate it,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla told reporters on Thursday.
In a privilege speech last week, Senator Risa Hontiveros bared that some Filipino workers were promised jobs in Thailand but were instead sent to Myanmar to become “crypto scammers” of an alleged Chinese syndicate.
On Tuesday, she presented during a Senate committee hearing some victims who were illegally recruited for a scamming job in Myanmar’s Shwe Kokko Special Economic Zone or Yatai New City.
She said these victims — who were given fake IDs showing they are staff of stores inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport – were sold per head to do the job and faced punishments which were sometimes life-threatening.
In a statement on Friday, Hontiveros welcomed the NBI probe, saying the DOJ – the investigation bureau’s parent agency – is “well-positioned to look into this particular case.”
“We cannot allow or afford the social and psychological consequences of lax border management, trafficking, and traumatic events endured by our OFWs,” the senator said.
According to Remulla, the information Hontiveros revealed will be the starting point of the NBI’s investigation.
On allegations that Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel may have a hand in the trafficking, the DOJ chief said, “Let the axe fall where it may, kahit sino pa ‘yan [whoever that is].”
The BI on Thursday said it has yet to find evidence linking its personnel to the crime, but it did not rule out the possibility.
Meanwhile, Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople told CNN Philippines that they have so far rescued and provided assistance to over 90 Filipino workers who were trafficked in Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.
She added coordination is ongoing with relevant agencies to rescue those who still need help.