Trafficking Syndicates Use Fake Free Roundtrip Tickets To Lure Filipinas Into Prostitution

Trafficking syndicates use fake roundtrip tickets and offer them as "free" to lure Filipinas they deploy for sex jobs in Singapore, the Philippine embassy in Singapore said last week.

In a recent statement, Consul General Maria Lumen Isleta said: "'Most of the human trafficking victims who run to the embassy for help hold dummy return tickets and ask for our assistance to be repatriated back to the Philippines."

Following a report earlier this week showed that a growing number of young Filipino women were being trafficked to Singapore for sexual exploitation. That report cited the cases of two women who were drawn in by the adventure of work abroad on the false promise of a high-paying decent job.

The increased incidence of trafficking of Asian women, including Filipinas, to Singapore has prompted the United States State Department to downgrade the city-state's rating from Tier 1 in 2006 to Tier 2 this year.

The embassy, in a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs, said the Singapore government was already cracking down on trafficking syndicates victimizing women.

Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Belen Fule-Anota said that in the past couple of months, Singapore authorities have arrested and jailed foreigners who knowingly presented fake return airline tickets to immigration authorities. She said that among them were 12 Filipinos, who were each given jail terms ranging from three to 10 months.

Anota said those arrested included several job seekers, pub girls who tried to extend their stay in Singapore, and even a Filipino information technology professional.

Isleta, who heads the embassy's consular section, observed: "Most of the women who were arrested by Singapore authorities for holding fake e-tickets were irregular hospitality workers who came to Singapore to work in pubs without any work permit. Most were caught while trying to re-enter Singapore at the border with Malaysia after their Singapore visas expired."

To entice prospective victims, Isleta said human traffickers and illegal recruiters would usually provide "free" roundtrip tickets (usually in the form of e-tickets). But, she cautioned, only one way was valid.

Isleta said this was a way for human traffickers to lower their cost and to demonstrate to their prospective victims that they were charging only a minimal recruitment fee while in the Philippines.

"To lower costs, human traffickers connive with travel agencies to issue dummy return tickets, usually from an airline different from the outbound one, to allow the trafficking victim to comply with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) requirement of a roundtrip ticket for tourists," she said.

Possession of a roundtrip ticket is a requirement for Filipino tourists who travel abroad. It is checked at the port of exit in the Philippines, as well as the port of entry of the destination country.

"This modus operandi lowers the cost of trafficking people across borders as traffickers only need to advance the cost of the outbound flight," she added.

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