Manila: Four Filipina women recruited to serve as surrogate mothers to babies sired by foreign fathers have been intercepted at the airport as authorities said a new human trafficking modus had been uncovered.

“This is a new modus operandi of a human trafficking syndicate that preys on our Filipino women, who are enticed to bear children of strangers for a fee, because of their poverty. We cannot allow this to happen,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said on Tuesday after agents intercepted four victims and their female recruiter last Sunday. The person who recruited the four is also a Filipina.

The five were about to board a Thai Airways flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 when they were told to disembark from the aircraft by the Bureau of Immigration’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit.

When interrogated by immigration inspectors four of the five detained Filipino women confessed that they were going abroad to become surrogate mothers for foreign clients in exchange for a fee.

Morente said the four human trafficking victims admitted that, after arriving in Bangkok they would proceed to Phnom Penh where they will be fetched by a Cambodian who made an arrangement with foreigners to father the babies.

The babies were to be fathered by a German, Nigerian, Australian, and a Chinese.

During questioning, the four Filipinas revealed that another batch of would-be surrogate mothers were scheduled to depart at the NAIA at an undisclosed date.

Morente said he had issued orders to immigration at the airports to be doubly vigilante in screening Filipino tourists departing for Thailand and Cambodia.

Experts definition of a surrogate mother a female who bears a child on behalf of another woman, either from her own egg which was fertilised by the other woman’s partner, or from the implantation in her uterus of a fertilised egg from the other woman.

The victims said they were each promised a fee of $8,700 (Dh31,955) — $200 of which would be paid after the first injection of the foreigner’s sperm into their uterus and $500 will be added upon confirmation of the unborn child’s heartbeat. The rest of the money would be paid in monthly instalments during their pregnancy and until the baby is delivered and sent to the country of the paternal parent.

Authorities are still determining charges that would be filed against the woman who recruited the four Filipinas aside from human trafficking.