By Ferdinand Patinio

(File photo)

MANILA – The Bureau of Immigration on Tuesday said it has recently intercepted a Filipino passenger en route to Malta at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 in Pasay City for presenting a fake pre-departure certificate.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said the female passenger was initially referred for secondary inspection for not possessing an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), despite acknowledging her intention to work in Europe last Nov. 11.

“Filipinos whose sole purpose of travel is to work overseas are required to secure OECs from the Department of Migrant Workers,” he said.

The OEC is a document mandated by the Philippine government for overseas Filipino workers as it ensures their proper documentation and protection while working abroad.

Upon secondary inspection, it was revealed that she was traveling to Malta to work as a live-in caregiver and was holding documents, including a Commission on Filipinos Overseas-Guidance and Counseling Program (CFO-GCP) certificate that were provided by her Maltese employer.

The CFO-GCP is a required pre-departure seminar for first-time Filipino migrants who are Filipino spouses, fiancé(e)s, and other partners of foreigners who plan to migrate overseas.

Tansingco said the passenger eventually admitted to obtaining her documents from an internet acquaintance, including the fake CFO-GCP certificate.

She also confessed that she did not personally apply for the CFO-GCP and bypassed the mandatory counseling session.

Tansingco reiterated that the processes departing Filipinos need to undergo are “to safeguard their well-being abroad.”

“This incident underscores the importance of exercising extreme caution when dealing with internet acquaintances. We encourage those seeking opportunities abroad to adhere to official channels and processes to avoid potential instances of human trafficking or illegal recruitment,” he added. (PNA)