Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Philippine deputy town mayor arrested on human trafficking charges

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 31, 2011) – Philippine authorities have arrested a deputy town mayor and his aide who were both linked to human trafficking charges in Mindanao.

Limtajar Bandahala Hassan, deputy mayor of Lugus town, was arrested in an entrapment operation carried out by undercover police and military agents at Paseo del Mar park in Zamboanga City over the weekend.

Hassan is being accused of transporting illegal Filipino workers to remote island of Taganak in the Filipino province of Tawi-Tawi before they are brought to Malaysia’s oil-rich state of Sabah.

Two agents, one from the local police force and the army, and a civilian informant who are members of a government anti-human trafficking task force, set up the trap and paid P18,000 in marked money to the politician in exchange for their boat trip to Taganak.

Police also seized a .45-caliber pistol from the politician, who identified himself as Limtazar Baladji, but government records showed his real name as Limtajar Bandahala Hassan.

Hassan has denied all the accusations against him and said he merely owns a passenger boat that plies from Zamboanga City to Taganak Island.

“I was fixing the boat’s generator when a friend approached and told me that there were people who wanted to go to Taganak. I just told him to purchase the tickets from us, so I went out with my purser to collect the payments. I am really innocent on all these charges,” he told television reporters from inside his jail in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)

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