Trafficking complaint filed vs NBI intel officer: ABS-CBN
MANILA, Philippines - An intelligence officer of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) based in Zamboanga City was slapped with a complaint for violation of Republic Act 9208, otherwise known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, estafa, and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Crizalina Torres was accused by 4 complainants of demanding P40,000 as “escort fee” to facilitate the departure of 2 of the 4 complainants for Bahrain via Abu Dhabi at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The complainants alleged that Torres was paid an initial P18,000, the balance of which would be paid upon actual departure of the two complainants.
After receiving P18,000, Torres allegedly escorted the victims inside NAIA Terminal 1 and instructed them "where to go and what to do inside the airport."
"She likewise coached them to misrepresent some material facts to the immigration officer on duty that they would leave for abroad as tourists, when in fact they were in possession of an authenticated and scanned employment visa," the NAIA Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons report stated.
The complainants were eventually off-loaded and not allowed to leave for abroad following an interview with Bureau of Immigration officers where complainants were asked if they had pocket money and were not able to show any.
The complainants – a mother and her daughter - told ABS-CBN News they informed immigration officers during said interview that the father was already in Bahrain and would meet them there.
However, upon validation, no record of the father having left the Philippines for Bahrain could be found leading immigration officials to off-load the them.
"Sinabi lang po namin yung itinuro niya [Torres] sa amin, hindi po namin alam na ganoon ang mangyayari sa amin. Siya po ang nagturo kung anong sasabihin sa immigration, kung ano ikukwento namin," the elder complainant said.
When they were off-loaded, complainants confronted Torres, leading police intelligence and investigation division officers to invite them for investigation.
They later turned over the case to the NAIA Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons.
"This is a case of human trafficking because the complainants were being attempted to leave the country for employment abroad when in fact no employment was waiting for them and they were coached into lying to immigration officials to pose as tourists when their real intent was to work abroad," prosecutor Jonathan Lledo of the national task force on Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), told ABS-CBN News.
The NBI, meanwhile, assured it does not tolerate wrongdoing of its organic personnel.
"We are giving the assurance that the bureau does not tolerate these things and we will help prosecute those who have to be prosecuted, kasuhan sila kahit sino pa sila," said lawyer Dante Bonoan, chief of the NBI anti-human trafficking division.
Torres, who was brought to the Department of Justice for inquest, denied the allegations against her and told ABS-CBN News that she was just trying to help the complainants because one of them was sick.
"Tinulungan ko lang po sa pagpasok sa airport, wala ako hininging halaga. Wala din po akong tinanggap na pera. Twenty eight years na ako sa serbisyo, ni hindi ko sila kilala may nakiusap lang sa akin," Torres said.
A certain Mario Obrero was also named as respondent in the complaint.
According to the complaint, Obrero is an alleged fixer and offered the help of Torres to facilitate the departure of the victims.
The claim was made by 2 other complainants who are relatives of the Bahrain-bound mother and daughter. (Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News)