8 would-be trafficking victims rescued in Zambo

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/23 August) – Eight would-be victims of human trafficking were rescued here Thursday by policemen backed by operatives of the multi-agency Sea-Based Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (SBATTF).

They were the third batch to be rescued this month by the authorities while in transit to Malaysia via this city.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City police director, said the victims were rescued around 11:30 a.m. Thursday at a hotel downtown.

Casimiro said five of them were identified as Dennis Lukenario, 19; Adrianne Balde, 18; Roldan Morados, 22; Alfredo Pahialgao, 22; and, Aljun Jimenez, 19. The other three were minors aged 16 to 17.

He said investigation showed they were recruited in Barangays Bato and Maligaya in Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay to work in Malaysia.

He said they were rescued after the women and children’s desk of his command received information that a group of newly-recruited workers for Malaysia had arrived at the hotel.

They were turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

They comprised the third batch of would-be human trafficking victims that were rescued by the local police and the SBATTF this month in this city.

The first batch to be rescued consisted of 13 women. They were recruited in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao region, to work in Malaysia and Lebanon.

They were rescued on Aug. 4 while they were about to board a commercial vessel at the local port.

A vessel owned by a local shipping firm plies once a week the Zamboanga-Malaysia route and vice-versa via Sandakan, Sabah.

The vessel departs every Monday and returns every Wednesday.

The second batch to be rescued consisted of 24 people who were rescued last Monday at the local wharf.

The Philippine Center for Transnational Crime-Western Mindanao Field Office said they were bound for Malaysia and were recruited from Basilan, Sulu, Iloilo and Metro Manila.

Authorities have tightened the watch at the local wharf after it was discovered that it is being used as a jump-off point by human traffickers. (MindaNews)