MANILA, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 30,000 victims of human trafficking have been rescued by the Philippine immigration authorities from January to October this year, the government said Wednesday.
The Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it has prevented a total of 28,467 Filipinos, including 151 minors or under-aged women bound for Saudi Arabia, from leaving the country as the bureau intensifies its campaign against human trafficking.
These passengers were intercepted at Manila's international airport and other airports in the central Philippines, in Davao in the southern Philippines and Clark airport in the Philippine main Luzon island, according to the BI.
"What we are trying to prevent here is allowing the departure of victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment," BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said in a statement.
"We are considered the last line of defense inside our country to protect our people," Medina added.
The BI has tightened the security at the airports this Christmas and holiday season, fearing that human traffickers might take advantage of the rush of the travellers.
Despite the generally good economic performance, poverty remains high and the pace of poverty reduction in the Philippines has been slow compared with other East Asian countries, according to a recent study by the World Bank.
Due to lack employment in the Philippines, up to 12 million Filipinos work or reside abroad to seek better opportunities and send back money to their families. Of this number, there are approximately 2.3 million new or renewed contracts for Filipinos to work overseas each year.
The Philippines is one of the world's largest labor exporters. The economy is heavily reliant on the remittances the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) send home.