Celso mulls ban on passenger, cargo vessels in fishing ports PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 January 2013 14:54

In a bid to strengthen the government’s campaign against human trafficking, Mayor CelsoLobregat on Tuesday mulled the proposal to ban cargo and passenger vessels from docking in privately owned wharves and fishing ports.

The proposal came on the heels after 85 persons believed to be victims of human trafficking were rescued Sunday night while aboard a vessel at a private wharf in Baliwasan, this city.

Lobregat toyed on the proposal during a multi-agency conference Tuesday afternoon in City Hall. He said he will meet with a limited group on Monday to finalize the proposal.

To recall, operatives of a multi-agency task force swooped down Wednesday night on a private wharf in Baliwasan, this city and rescued 85 persons believed to be victims of human trafficking-cum illegal recruitment by a still unidentified Malaysian national.

Evelyn Las Marias, officer-in-charge of the City Social Welfare and Development Office, said the human trafficking victims, mostly from the provinces of Zamboangadel Sur and Sibugay, were rescued on board M/L Nurhira, owned by a certain Arden Asakil, shortly before the boat could depart for Malaysia.

Rescued were 26 men, 16 women and 3 children (boys).  Of the number, only 45 have been assessed by the CSWDO as of press time. It was learned the victims had paid between P2,000 and P5,000 for their transportation to Malaysia.

Of those already assessed, 13 came from the municipality of Titay, Zamboanga del Sur, 11 from Payao, ZamboangaSibugay, 8 from Zamboanga City, 5 from Pagadian City, 2 from Ipil, ZamboangaSibugay, 2 from Tampilisan, and 1 each from Agusan City, Davao City, San Mutya, Zamboanga del Sur and Dapitan City.

The CSWDO immediately provided transportation for the alleged victims of human trafficking from the wharf to the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Processing Center for Displaced Persons in Talon-Talon, where they were given food assistance and assessed.

Of the 8 victims from Zamboanga City, 5 came from Bunguiao and 3 from Tugbuangan. They were immediately sent to their respective homes.

The rescue team was composed of operatives from the Philippine National Police, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Philippine Center for Transnational Crime (PCTC), Navy-NISG, DSWD, Visayan Forum, CSWDO, Coast Guard and the Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Group. —Vic Larato