70 victims of trafficking rescued in Zambo

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/19 June) – At least 70 victims of  trafficking, 30 of them women, were rescued here from June 13 to 17.

On Friday, a combined police and military team rescued 14 women on board a boat bound for Malaysia via Tawi-tawi, Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) director, said Sunday.

The group rescued last Friday was the third rescued between Monday and Friday last week, de Ocampo said.

The inter-agency Zamboanga Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force (ZSBATTF), intensified its monitoring after it was discovered that Zamboanga City is being used by illegal recruiters as one of their transshipment points in the country.

On Monday night, 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.

They were already on board a vessel bound for  Taganak Island,  in the Turtle Island Group in Tawi-Tawi.  The Turtle Island Group is right on the
edge of the international treaty limits separating the Philippines and Malaysia.

From Taganak Island, they were supposed to travel to Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia, where they will work as domestic helpers and skilled workers.

The second group, composed of two women, one from the Mountain Province and one from Sultan Kudarat, was rescued last Thursday. The police arrested the suspected recruiter.

The two women were rescued when they reported to the ZCPO headquarters the suspected recruiter, Narding Damahan, who allegedly tried to sexually molest one of them while they were sleeping in a pension house in this city.

They were scheduled to travel to Malaysia and then to Jordan where they were offered to work as domestic helpers, the police learned.

De Ocampo said the rescue on Friday afternoon was done after the Military Intelligence Group-9 (MIG-9) received an information about a group of women spotted in a dormitory in Barangay San Jose Gusu, west of this city.

De Ocampo said the MIG-9 operatives learned that the group of 14 women was set to board a commercial ferry at this city’s port bound for Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia via Tawi-Tawi province last Friday.

He said MIG-9 operatives coordinated with the ZCPO to keep track of  the group of women.

He said another information was received by the ZCPO a few minutes after the MIG-9 operatives coordinated with his office.

De Ocampo said that when they rushed to the local port, they saw the 14 women aboard a commercial ferry set to sail for Bongao, the capital of
Tawi-Tawi province.

When interviewed, the women revealed they were recruited to work in Malaysia with no proper documents, he said.

De Ocampo withheld the identity of the suspected recruiter but said he is now the subject of a manhunt.

The women were escorted and turned over to the Visayan Forum Foundation, a non-government organization (NGO) working on human trafficking cases, for temporary shelter.  (MindaNews)