19 human trafficking victims intercepted

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/15 Feb) – Nineteen Malaysia-bound recruits to work in Malaysia were intercepted by authorities at the Zamboanga City port Monday afternoon, reports said.

Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, city police chief, said operatives from the Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force (SBATTF), backed by policemen, intercepted the illegally recruited workers on board a commercial ferry bound for Sandakan in the state of Sabah around 4:30 p.m. following continued surveillance at the local port against human trafficking activities.

But De Ocampo said government operatives failed to arrest the illegal recruiter. He added that the recruiter may have abandoned the victims upon sensing the presence of the lawmen.

But he assured they will unmask the recruiter behind as investigations continue.

The victims were turned over to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The SBATTF has intensified surveillance at the Zamboanga City port that serves as jump-off point for victims of illegal recruitment.

A Zamboanga-Sandakan passenger and cargo ferry plies the route twice a week.

The victims were identified as Gemma Sarlatan, 24, of Quezon City; Cynthia Refazo, 26, Manila; Marivic Nasayao, 37, Quezon province; Jonathan Albania, 35, Gey Pascua, 34, Lemuel Polancos, 24, Venzon Uy, 21, and Kristen Jane Magsacay, 27, Davao City; Lerma Allan, 28, Basilan; Analou Reyes, 23, and Marilyn Labi, 22, Davao Oriental; Rene Patoc, 49, Mario Vista, 27, Ryan Genioso, 25, Rey Omandam, 37, Jonathan Patoc, 42, Mesherben Salmorin, 21, Oliver Sael, 28, and Reynante Rico, 27, Zamboanga del Norte. (MindaNews)