29 trafficked Filipinas rescued in Malaysia PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 June 2016 13:21

The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday said 29 trafficked Filipinas were rescued in two bars by Philippine police in coordination with their Malaysian counterpart  in Sarawak state,  Borneo island, Malaysia.

In a statement, the embassy said the rescue was carried out through the coordination of Embassy Police Attache Pablo Labra II and Assistance to Nationals (ATN) officer Ariel Esparto with Sarawak police on June 9.

Also arrested during the raid were three Filipinos who served as agents and caretakers of the rescued Filipinas.

“We thank the Bintulu branch of the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) for their swift action to provide assistance and rescue of the trafficked Filipinas,” Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya said.

Malaya said after receiving reports of trafficked Filipinas in the area, the Embassy officials visited Sarawak and coordinated with the RMP.  The Bintulu police thereafter staged the raid at the Republic and Kiss Kiss Discovery pubs.

Investigation is ongoing and the women are to be transferred to the Women’s Shelter Home in Kota Kinabalu after the court’s approval of its application for temporary protection.

The Embassy reminds Filipinos to be vigilant and not to deal with unlicensed individuals or purported placement agencies, especially online, as they could end up being trafficked.

“They should verify the job offer and the agency offering the said job with the POEA in Manila or the Embassy’s Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) before making travel plans,” the embassy statement said. “Proper employment visas from by the Malaysian Embassy in Manila and work permits approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) in Manila are needed by any Filipino entering Malaysia for work.”

Malaya said they have received reports of individuals and agencies allegedly offering work in Malaysia by first entering as a tourist and then promising to convert them to employment visas in exchange for money, as is the case of some of the women rescued.  Under Malaysian immigration law, social visit passes (tourist visas) cannot be converted to work visas.

Philippine authorities regularly intercept batches of trafficking victims, mostly women, in the predominantly Christian city of Zamboanga which is being used as jump-off point by traffickers in smuggling illegally recruited job seekers to the southern backdoor going to Malaysia and in some cases to as far as Middle East.

The Philippine Center on Transnational Crime Western Mindanao Field Office has said that  68 victims from different places in the country have been rescued in January alone.

The center said from Zamboanga, traffickers surreptiously bring their recruits to Basilan and therefrom transport them from island to island until  they reach the southernmost province of Tawi-Tawi which is minutes away from Sabah, Malaysia.

Officials said traffickers are now careful in using Zamboanga City as their jumpoff point because of several apprehensions made recently.