Tuesday, August 02, 2011

33 victims of human trafficking rescued in Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 2, 2011) – Police have rescued nearly three dozen women who were suspected victims of human trafficking in the southern Philippines, officials said on Tuesday.

Officials said 17 of them were found at an apartment in Zamboanga City after police was tipped off about the group that arrived on Monday from Manila.

The women were recruited mostly in Bicol region in Luzon Island and had been promised high-paying jobs in the oil-rich state of Sabah in Malaysia near the Philippine border.

One man is being held by the police in connection with Monday’s raid on the house in the village of Santa Maria where the women were waiting for their recruiters.

Local police chief Edwin de Ocampo said the women had been handed over to social workers. “We have intensified our campaign against human trafficking and the government is serious about fighting this menace,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Among those who joined the rescue mission were representatives from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Another group of 16 women on their way to Sabah were also stopped by the police in the southern province Tawi-Tawi over the weekend. The women claimed they were recruited to work in Sabah, but they had no travel documents.

Many of them were duped into working in Malaysia in exchange for huge salaries, police said. The women were recruited from as far Tarlac province in Luzon Island and the others from different provinces in Mindanao Island.

The women were also handed over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the agency tasked to document victims of human trafficking and bring them back to their place of origin.

Zamboanga City and Tawi-Tawi have become the jump-off point for human smugglers to Malaysia because of its sea routes to Sabah. (With a report from Ely Dumaboc)

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