‘Illegal recruiter’ nabbed in Cebu airport

A WOMAN reported to be behind the alleged illegal recruitment of 11 individuals believed to be human trafficking victims heading for Dubai was nabbed by the National Bureau of Investigation Cebu District Office (NBI-Cebdo).

This, after government agents discovered that she pretended to be one of her victims during the agency’s rescue operation at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.

Special Agent Arnel Pura, agent-in-charge of NBI CEBDO, said Tuesday, June 27, the suspect identified as Alma Ambrad was positively recognized by the victims.

Ambrad is a resident of Talisay City, Cebu.

The airport’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit found out the 10 passengers had employment visas while holding tourist documents.

Pura said nine of the 10 victims stated in an investigative interview that Ambrad was their sponsor or guide for their employment in Dubai under the agency Al Nahda Travel and Tourism, a Dubai-based travel agency.

Eight of them said another lady named “Jehlyn” introduced herself as an employee of the agency and instructed them to look for Ambrad as their guide.

But upon the NBI’s verification with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Department of Migrant Workers, authorities found Ambrad was not authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment.

Pura said they will seek the help of law enforcment agencies in Dubai to trace if Ambrad was really associated with Al Nahda and plan the arrest of her possible cohorts, including Jehlyn.

The suspect underwent inquest proceedings before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Lapu-Lapu City on Monday, June 26, and was transported back to the NBI CEBDO to face charges that are not bailable for violation of the laws against qualified trafficking in persons, or Republic Act (RA) 9208, and large scale illegal recruitment, or RA 10022.

Pura said the suspect denied the allegations against her and insisted that she was one of the passengers. She is slated to submit a counter affidavit and is seeking a preliminary investigation through her lawyer.

Meanwhile, the victims have gone to their respective homes to await the court proceedings against the suspect.