DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 July) – Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte declared he would form a task force to stop illegal recruitment and transport of prospective victims of human trafficking and said he would not hesitate to adopt “profiling” to catch the perpetrators.
“It’s obnoxious, this profiling of people but the times call for it,” Duterte told the first summit on human trafficking held at the Sangguniang Panlungsod building here late last week.
Duterte apologized for the hastily called summit saying that he was alarmed at the frequency of cases. “Almost everyday we hear lots of our people complaining that they have no contact for a long time already with their children or kin,” he said.
He asked the chiefs and representatives of regulatory and law enforcement agencies gathered at the summit to prepare for the creation of the task force among themselves “before the next regular session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod [today] to discuss the budget and the possibility of putting up an office”.
“We want to stop them right here before they could ever transport our poor fellow Filipinos to be sold for prostitution or slavery. I would like somebody to be permanently stationed at the airport and the wharf and to stop all who are suspected to be transporting our young girls,” he said.
Profiling of persons would mean suspecting adults who would accompany or herd young girls or women at the airport or seaport. “Profiling would tell you that that particular person could not possibly be the likely victim’s relative, or a common relative of a group of girls or women,” Duterte said.
“That would make you suspect them, hence a social worker or anybody assigned at the airport or seaport should require the adult or the girls to produce their cedula or birth certificates,” he said.
The vice mayor cited a case of a parent who told him that she last heard of her child on Sunday who told her that she was in Yemen.
Only shortly after the summit was adjourned that a man told Duterte that his 13-year-old daughter called for help and said she would try to escape from her foreign companion. The father said that her daughter was last seen with a European man and was heard paying a fare for Toril, about 17 kilometers west of downtown.
Duterte immediately ordered Police Chief Rene Asperas to hunt down and arrest the foreigner for kidnapping.
Regional State Prosecutor Antonio Arellano, the head of the Regional Interagency Council Against Human Trafficking (RIACAT), said Duterte’s planned task force could assume the function of the enforcement and reaction unit of the City IACAT.
City Councilor Conrado Baluran has asked Chief Supt. Jaime Morente on how the city could augment the law enforcement capability of the police.
Morente said he would send a detailed list of the assistance it would need from the city, “but in general, we should augment our equipment and resources to enable our personnel to conduct surveillance and make a stronger case build-up”.
He said the police were commonly assigned to various cases “and human trafficking is just one of them”. So we need resources to send personnel who would be dedicated and to give focus on gathering evidences and building up the case to convict the offenders.” (MindaNews)