MANILA – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will investigate the activities of rogue airport employees including Bureau of Immigration personnel allegedly behind the trafficking of Filipino workers who were forced into cryptocurrency investment scams in Myanmar, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Thursday.

"We’re already investigating that. We’re asking the NBI to investigate it," Remulla said in a chance interview with reporters, adding that the probe will include uncovered information in the Senate investigation on the controversy.

"Yung findings ng hearing pa rin ang aming (The findings of the Senate hearing) -- we’re making it the starting point of the investigation because the hearings were very revealing as to the modus operandi," he said.

He said no immigration personnel or official will be exempted from liability if found to be culpable by the NBI investigation.

"Kahit sino pa yan (Whoever they maybe)" Remulla said.

During the hearing of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, a victim said they were provided with fake official airport access stamps to skirt screening by the Bureau of Immigration.

Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco has urged airport authorities to investigate the rising cases of attempted trafficking involving fake entry passes.

Tansingco said he issued an order to BI Port Operations Division chief Carlos Capulong to coordinate with the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) to request a thorough investigation of the issue.

The concern came after airport security and police intercepted three victims earlier in November. 

The victims reportedly used fake airport access passes, or pretending to be employees of various airport concessionaires, to enter the boarding gates.

Upon closer inspection by airport security, it was also found out that their passports and boarding passes contained counterfeit immigration stamps.

The BI also received a report that last Nov. 16, another female victim was intercepted by aviation security personnel.

The victim, bound for Kuala Lumpur, presented a fake access pass and attempted to enter the employees’ entrance.

Her passport and boarding pass also contained fake stamps, which she said, were only given to her outside airport premises.

Tansingco added that previous victims might have used the employees’ entrance to evade strict departure assessment, to depart the country to illegally work in countries such as Myanmar.

Long-term solutions sought

In the meantime, Senator Risa Hontiveros urged the government to come out with a long-term solution on human trafficking, most likely through cooperation initiatives among the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) member-countries, as well as other countries whose residents were victimized by the scam.

“Moving forward, there have to be clear transborder solutions. The Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia are bound by the ASEAN convention against trafficking in persons, kaya dapat mayroong (There must be) tighter coordination para sugpuin ang krimeng ito (to suppress this crime),” she said in a statement.

“Mainam na may pagtutulungan at koordinasyon din sa mga Estado ng US, Canada, Germany, at UK, lalo na at ang mga mamamayan nila ang kadalasang biktima ng mga scams ((It would also be better if there is cooperation and coordination with the US, Germany, United Kingdom, since most of their citizens fall victim to these scams),” Hontiveros said.

She also urged the government agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to coordinate with their counterparts to ensure the safe return of the victims to our country.

The BI on Thursday said it has yet to find links among its personnel to the human trafficking of Filipinos to Myanmar, adding the perpetuators may not be BI employees.

During the hearing last Tuesday, Filipino workers sent to Myanmar were given fake airport employee identification cards and asked to wear uniforms of airport concessionaires so they can skip immigration.

MIAA on the other hand said they are not discounting the possibility that a concessionaire might be involved in the syndicate and that they are still investigating the case. (With reports from Leonel Abasola/PNA)