10 more potential trafficking victims intercepted in Zambo PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 14:13

Authorities intercepted on Monday 10 more potential victims of human trafficking in Zamboanga City.

The 10 were bound for Sabah, Malaysia when they were intercepted by the Overseas Passengers Assistance Center (OPAC) at the Zamboanga City wharf.

The victims came from Kabasalan and Imelda, Zamboanga Sibugay, Quirino, Sultan Kudarat, Basilan and Sulu. Nine of them are women.

Due to the intensified operations of OPAC, the 10 were intercepted while about to board a commercial vessel bound for Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.

The Philippine Center on Transnational Crime Western Mindanao Field Office (PCTC) revealed that the 10 have neither certificate from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency to work in Sabah, Malaysia nor a letter of invitation from an employer or friend to work in Malaysia.

PCTC said that after interrogation and interview, the Bureau of Immigration issued a recommendation letter stating that the 10 victims are high  risk or potentially trafficked or illegally recruited because they have no important documents in their possession which are needed in going abroad.

The 10 were brought to the DSWD’s Home for Women at Sitio Talungon, Barangay San Roque for temporary shelter and counselling before they will be sent back to their home provinces.-

The anti-human trafficking campaign is being carried out by Zamboanga City Based Anti- Human Trafficking Task Forces with operating units from the Philippine Center on Transnational Crimes  Western Mindanao Field Office, Deparment of Social Welfare and Development 9, Visayan Forum Foundation, Philippine Ports Authority Police and K-9 Unit of the Philippine Coast Guard Zamboanga Station.

Last June 3, 11 human trafficking victims escaped .from their employer in Barangay Tandu- Uwak, Sibutu municipality, Tawi-Tawi where they complained of maltreatment.

The 11 trafficking victims told authorities that they had pretended to go fishing and asked permission from their employer to use his two pumpboats.

The two pumpboats sailed straight to the Philippine Navy in Bongao where they sought for help.

According to the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime Western Mindanao Field Office (PCTC-WM), the 11 victims were exploited by their employer identified only as a certain H. Juani who is engaged in deep sea fishing and gathering of live lapu-lapu fish (grouper).

PCTF-WM said the 11 victims were recruited by Benjin Bacaltos, a diver from Bohol and were brought to an island in Tawi-Tawi  on May 7, 2012. Most of them came from Bohol and two are minors.

Moreover, two of the victims’ companions identified as Belen Villaver and Arnel Dela are still in the hands of Huani.

According to the victims, during their working stint with Huani, they were allegedly maltreated and paid very low salary.

They told PCTC-WM officers that Huani had inflicted them with physical harm and if they complained or do not follow his orders, their food rations were reduced.

One of the victims, John M. Gungora, partially lost his eyesight after he was bitten by a dog. He was not given any treatment of anti-rabies by Huani  Fortunately Gungora is still alive six months after the dog bit him.

When the victims arrived in Zamboanga City Friday afternoon, the Philippine Navy turned them over to the Zamboanga City Sea-Based Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force with PCTC-WM, 9th Maritime Group, Department of Social Welfare and Development 9 and the Visayan Forum.

The victims were given temporary shelter and counseling.at the DSWD 9’s Crisis Intervention Center. -- Allen Abastillas