MANILA — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) bolstered its campaign against the proliferation of fake overseas employment certificates (OECs) by fielding additional personnel to screen documents of departing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

BI Port Operations Division (POD) chief Grifton Medina said all personnel have been alerted against bogus documents being used by OFWs who were victimized by human trafficking syndicates and illegal recruiters.

“Those victims with questionable documents will be immediately subjected to secondary inspection. If their papers are found to be indeed spurious, they will not be allowed to depart and will be turned over to the IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking) for investigation and assistance,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

A total of 17 OFWs with fake OECs have been apprehended at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport during the Holy Week.

BI Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) head Erwin Ortañez said the victims carried fake Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) clearances and pre-departure orientation seminar certificates.

“They mistakenly thought we will lower our guard due to the large number of travelers during the Lenten break. But we were on full alert. Their scheme did not work,” he said.

Ortañez said apprehended OFWs, most of them bound for Middle East, have working visas and job contracts but are holding fake OECs and POEA clearances.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said the syndicates “will not succeed” even if they are using every trick, they can think of to get more victims. (PNA)