DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 November) — Two minors who were believed to have been lured into a trafficking scheme have been placed under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 11 after they were rescued at the F. Bangoy International Airport last week.
DSWD-11 project development officer Alma Acera said during the Kapihan sa PIA at the NCCC Mall of Davao on Thursday that personnel at the assistance desk of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking at the airport rescued the two who tried to fly out using falsified birth certificates and other documents.
She said the victims were a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old, and claimed to be in their 20’s. The IACAT officers, however, prevented them from boarding the plane on suspicion that they might just end up in the hands of human traffickers.
She said the children came from Pikit, North cobato, and were bound for Manila.
She added the two are currently housed at the DSWD’s Group Home for Girls and Women.
Acera said the facility takes in victims of human trafficking and has already served 24 clients, 17 of whom have been discharged.
She said that not all rescued victims came from Davao City. Some of them came from other provinces in Davao Region, Caraga Region, Cotabato, Bukidnon, and Cagayan de Oro City.
As of October 2015, the IACAT had rescued 63 trafficked victims in the region. Forty-five of came from Davao City, eight from Davao del Norte, five from Davao Oriental, three from Davao del Sur, and two from Compostela Valley.
There were 13 victims coming from other region. Four came from Bukidnon, another four from Cagayan de Oro, three from Caraga, and two from Cotabato.
Acera said Davao City’s development has also made it not only a source and transit area but also a destination where the victims are promised to land jobs.
She explained that minors are vulnerable to abuses because they get consent from their parents to work, or the parents themselves involve their children in pornography in exchange for money.
“Most of the victims are recruited for abroad,” she said.
She said most of the cases involve child labor and sexual abuse, the latter abetted by easy access to the internet.
She said they are planning to put up IACAT assistance desks in bus and van terminals because most of the transits are done by land.
DSWD-11 has integrated awareness drive about trafficking in its family development and youth development sessions for beneficiaries of the Pamilyang Pilipino Pantawid Program or the conditional cash transfer program.
A total of eight cases have been filed against suspects of human trafficking. As of Oct. 15, the suits have resulted in one conviction while six cases were still active, according to the Department of Justice.
DOJ-11 assistant prosecutor Ritzel Rabor-Polinar said human trafficking is punishable under Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.
Punishable acts include recruiting, transporting and receiving a person by any means for prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)