DSWD, police thwart human trafficking scheme in Zambo Print
Thursday, 23 June 2011 13:45

Acting on information provided by a rescued human trafficking victim, operatives of the local police and social workers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development rescued two more females who were about to become victims themselves in an apartment in Barangay Malagutay, this city in a joint operation conducted Monday night.

Ms. Ma. Socorro Rojas, social welfare officer in charge of anti-trafficking from the DSWD, said the women came from Luzon.
“We have learned that the recruiter is also the one responsible for the other illegal recruitment activities that were successfully intercepted with the help of our local police and other concerned agencies in the past weeks, particularly those in Ipil where 12 women were rescued, and in Jolo, where 4 were rescued,” said Ms. Rojas. It was learned that this recruiter may be in cohorts with an arrested suspect, who was taken into custody by the police last Friday.

One of the victims said she applied as a domestic helper for Jordan, in the Middle East in an undisclosed agency in her hometown of Laguna. She was then sent to Manila for placement. Upon arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, she said the recruiter approached her, who identified herself as the contact for the overseas job. But instead of facilitating her trip to Jordan, the recruiter handed her tickets to Zamboanga.

“I was hesitant to follow her (the recruiter) to Zamboanga since I thought I was going to Jordan. But she insisted that I travel via Malaysia for Jordan, but I would have to pass by Zamboanga first,” said the victim.

Upon arriving in Zamboanga City, she said she was escorted to the apartment in Malagutay aboard a tricycle. The place was said to be rented by the recruiter.
She further said that she was detained there, literally locked up for 9 days, until she was rescued.
“Food was fine, but we were strictly forbidden to leave the premises,” the victim said.

Meanwhile, it was learned that 11 other victims were nested inside the same Malagutay apartment, prior to the rescue operation. Authorities revealed that upon entering the premises, several luggage were discovered, confirming that there were more than just the two rescued victims.
“The women arrived at different times, but there were 12 of us all in all,” said the victim.

The women were then brought under the care of the DSWD for counseling, while awaiting their return to their hometown.
It can be recalled that last Friday, 14 women were also rescued aboard a boat bound for Tawi-Tawi. On Sunday, 12 other women were rescued in a hotel in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Authorities are stepping up efforts to arrest the recruiters, since the Philippines is now under the Tier 2 watch list, the second lowest rank placed by the US State Department with regards to addressing human trafficking. With the recent successful rescues, it is hoped that the Philippines will merit an upgrade in the ranking, and will be receiving more humanitarian assistance from the US government in curbing human trafficking. -- Dominic Sanchez