BI to reuse NAIA phone jammers vs trafficking

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As part of its campaign against human trafficking, the government’s immigration body will reactivate at least four mobile phone jammers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Wednesday it plans to install similar jammers, which cost P400,000 each, in all immigration areas in the country’s international airports.

Immigration officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma said that the jammers are a tool to help thwart human trafficking in airports.

Human trafficking syndicates use mobile phones with their intended victims, Ledesma added.

An immigration official, who asked not to be named told GMANews.TV, that “the usual targets of traffickers are overseas Filipino workers with tourist visas. The so-called tourist workers."

The modus operandi of trafficking syndicates, “sometimes in cahoots with some immigration officers at the airports, is that they instruct the intended victim or victims via cellphones to go to a particular queue or counter," the immigration official said.

“These cellphone jammers will definitely go a long way in bolstering our fight against human traffickers," Ledesma stressed.

The bureau’s property section has been ordered to secure the necessary permit from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to again operate the NAIA cellular phone jammers as soon as possible, he said.

BI property section chief John Tugade meanwhile said the bureau’s four jammers and its server are still at the NAIA departure area and can be used anytime.

The BI has stopped using the equipment, bought by the bureau during the previous administration, after airline companies and other airport stakeholders protested against the jammers.

The use of the jammers is one of the several measures that the BI and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking plan to implement amid the reported rise in cases of trafficking of Filipinos going abroad.

The council is a government agency — under the Justice Department — tasked to monitor the implementation of Republic Act No. 9208 or the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003".

In September, the BI started testing a new queuing system, dubbed the “S-line" system, at NAIA to prevent passengers from selecting immigration counters.

The S-Line system places arriving and departing passengers in a situation wherein they cannot select the immigration counter at the airport as they would be distributed to different counters from a single, snaking line.

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