ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/14 September) – Joint operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Navy Intelligence rescued 13 victims of human trafficking in this city late Monday night from a ferry bound for Bongao in Tawi-tawi, NBI Regional Director Manuel Almendares said.
Almendares said the victims were rescued at around 10 p.m. Monday aboard a wooden-hulled ferry at the port of Zamboanga, minutes before the ferry was scheduled to leave for Bongao.
He said the victims were recruited by a Zamboangueña named Elvira Solitado alias Bebeng, who promised them jobs in Sabah, Malaysia.
Solitado was not with the victims since she is now based in Malaysia, Almendares disclosed.
He said the victims were supposed to be met in Bongao port by a certain Munib, the contact person of Solitado, who will in turn take them to Malaysia via the southern back door since the victims are traveling without passports.
He said the victims, including a woman and her child, all from the town of Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay were turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Meanwhile, two persons arrested for human trafficking are now detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-administered Zamboanga City Reformatory Center.
Detained at the ZCRC are Limtajar Hassan and Kimar Saidi. They were arrested for illegal recruitment by the Women and Children Protection Desk of the Zamboanga City Police Office.
ZCPO director Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo said Hassan and Saidi were detained at ZCRC after cases were filed against them for trafficking.
De Ocampo said the suspects were arrested Friday by the WCPD operatives headed by Senior Insp. Gemma Luna aboard a passenger vessel bound for Tawi-Tawi.
The WCPD operatives at the same time rescued four victims — all women including a 16-year-old girl–when the suspects were arrested, De Ocampo said.
The victims are from Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat and General Santos City, he said.
The city is being used as a transshipment point for illegal recruiters sending workers to Malaysia via the backdoor.
On August 14, three victims from Las Pinas City in Metro Manila were rescued from a pension house in Barangay Canelar, three days after the inter-agency Sea Base Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (SBATTF) arrested two suspected human traffickers and rescue two victims from Aurora, Isabela province.
In June, at least 70 victims of trafficking, 30 of them women, were rescued here from June 13 to 17.
On June 17, a combined police and military team rescued 14 women on board a boat bound for Malaysia via Tawi-tawi.
Evening of June 13, a group of 54 persons, 14 of them women, was rescued by the Task Force in a private wharf in Barangay Recodo, 15 kilometers west of this city.
The victims were on board a vessel bound for Taganak Island, in the Turtle Island Group in Tawi-Tawi. From Taganak Island, they were supposed to travel to Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia, where they will work as domestic helpers and skilled workers.
Two women, one from the Mountain Province and one from Sultan Kudarat, were rescued after they reported to the ZCPO headquarters on June 16 that the suspected recruiter, Narding Damahan, allegedly tried to sexually molest one of them while they were sleeping in a pension house in this city.
The two were scheduled to travel to Malaysia and then to Jordan where they were offered to work as domestic helpers, the police learned. (MindaNews)