SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/19 June) – More victims of human trafficking have been recorded here in the first two quarters of 2016, most of them shipped out from Pantalan 1 and 2 here, a non-governmental organization said.
The Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc.(VFFI) said they have recorded 227 victims, 63 of them female minors, in the first half of this year.
Last year, the VFFI recorded 164 victims, 89 of them women and children. The year 2008 saw a record of 225, it said.
Philippine Ports Authority-Port Police Superintendent Froilan Caturla said illegal recruiters and their victims loosely take motorized bancas at the Pantalan going to Southern Leyte towns of Pintuyan, San Ricardo and Liloan.
TRANSIT POINT. More victims of human trafficking have been shipped out through Pantalan 1 and 2 in Surigao City, according to a non-governmental organization. The absence of law enforces makes it easier for illegal recruiters to do their trade. MindaNews photo by ROEL CATOTO
He said they could have prevented traffickers if they had jurisdiction over these areas.
“That does not belong to the PPA. We don’t have jurisdiction over these areas unlike the base port and the port of Lipata,” Caturla told MindaNews.
He said the local government should do something about the situation as it has already reached an alarming level.
“Our city has been known as human trafficking capital based on records,” he said.
Caturla suggested that the city and the province deploy enforcers in the Pantalan so these illegal recruiters and traffickers could be arrested.
VFFI regional coordinator Zenaida Calungsad called the attention of the local officials of the city and the province to address the problem.
“This is not our job to run after these illegal recruiters; it’s the local government’s. We just simply assess the victim, give her/him advice through counseling and what he/she needs.
Calungsad said she hopes the city and the province could work hand in hand to eradicate the problem.
“If this will be neglected, our brothers and sisters might land jobs full of uncertainties, commonly underpaid, unsecured and dangerous,” she said.
Among some of the worst job situations based on records are seeing men who work in the factory day and night with no salaries and without enough food, and women who landed indecent jobs in night clubs and sex dens.
The provincial government recently held a meeting with its Provincial Inter Agency Committee against Trafficking and Violence Against Women and Children (PIACAT-VAWC) and talked about how Surigao has become the transit point for illegal recruiters.
The meeting also discussed the necessary institutional mechanisms for the protection and support of trafficked persons.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Population Commission, PPA Port Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Labor and Employment, VFFI, and provincial board members Regina Alaan Semeon Castrence, among others. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)