Philippines probes immigration officers over trafficking women to Syria

MANILA (AFP) – The Philippine immigration bureau said yesterday it has launched an investigation into allegations that some of its officers were involved in the trafficking of 44 women to work in Syria.

A Senate inquiry into the human trafficking scheme has been told that women using tourist visas travelled from the Philippines to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates where they had been promised work.

They were “locked up inside a dark and dirty dormitory and were made to sleep on the floor”, Senator Risa Hontiveros, who is spearheading the inquiry, said previously.

After their 30-day visas expired, they were forced to go to Damascus where they were sold to employers for as much as USD10,000.

“Our immigration officers seem to be sending our women into slavery,” Hontiveros said last week.

Dozens fled to the Philippine embassy in the Syrian capital “due to harsh working conditions”, the foreign ministry said.