3 Zambo barangays ‘hot spots’ in human trafficking — official PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 10 December 2015 11:58

by DOMINIC I. SANCHEZ

While there is an increase in number of human trafficking incidents in the country, three barangays in the city have been tagged as “hot spots”, a Department of Justice (DOJ) official said.

“These are the areas where we have been conducting rescue operations for potential trafficking victims, and we are keeping an eye on these barangays,” said Atty. Edwinlino Custodio, head of the Zamboanga Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force (ZSBATTF) in a press conference on  Monday at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

He emphasized that trafficking incidents have increased this year, although not presenting statistics.

Custodio said that to inform the residents who are potential trafficking victims in these areas, members of the inter-agency task force will hold information drives within the week.

According to Custodio, many Filipinos become trafficking victims primarily due to poverty. “They want to earn, they want to get out of the country in spite of the risk,” he said.

He shared that many victims come from Luzon, in Metro Manila, Baguio, Nueva Vizcaya, Pampanga and other provinces. There are also those who come from Zamboanga and the neighboring provinces.

Most of the traffickers come from Luzon and organize the scheme there, Custodio pointed out. “But they would always look at Zamboanga City as a jump-off point and a back door, considering its proximity to Malaysia.”

From Malaysia, the victims will then be sent to other countries, some even as far as the Middle East.

“These people are taken advantage of their vulnerability,” Custodio explained. Victims usually include women and even children, and are exploited abroad.

He said there is a need to have strong anti-trafficking strategies not only in Zamboanga City, but in other localities as well, where the potential victims are plucked by the traffickers from their own communities. “There must also be efforts to curb trafficking in Luzon and in other places,” he said.

The lawyer lamented there are plenty of pending human trafficking cases in court, but it is very difficult to resolve the cases. “Most witnesses have just lost their interest in the case, and they are from other cities. We have to convince them to come over, but they have lost interest,” he said.

December 12 each year is observed as International Day Against Trafficking in Persons in several countries, including the Philippines. This year’s theme is “Wakasan ang Trafficking. Ito’y Ating Tungkulin.” The commemoration will end this Saturday (December 12) with a motorcade and a general assembly meeting of anti-trafficking stakeholders in Paseo del Mar. (ALT/DIS/PIA9-Zamboanga City)