Hold order sought vs foreigners linked to workers’ abuse
DAGUPAN CITY — The National Bureau of Investigation has petitioned a court to issue hold departure orders against Taiwanese and Chinese fish farm operators who allegedly maltreated their workers, among them minors, at Sual town in Pangasinan province.
The petition was filed on July 30 against Tai Tse Yu, a Taiwanese, and Hau Quichang (also identified as Ho Chi-Chang) and Hau Xi-Ping, both Chinese, for allegedly forcing their employees to work under “exploitative, unhealthy and hazardous conditions” at their Sual marine farms.
The NBI and agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development undertook a rescue operation on July 19, freeing five minors tagged as victims of human trafficking and 39 adults working at the fish farm.
No search warrant
But the Pangasinan prosecutor dismissed on July 25 the human trafficking complaint that the NBI filed against the three foreigners, concluding that the operation was “tantamount to unreasonable search and seizure as it was undertaken without a search warrant.”
Rizaldy Jaymalin, agent in charge of the NBI Dagupan district office, said the three foreigners were managers and supervisors of Super Mega Seashore Corp., which operates in Baquioen Bay.
He said the foreigners failed to produce their immigration papers and working permits during the rescue mission.
But in their affidavit, which was written in Filipino, the foreigners claimed they were vacationing tourists who offered to help manage the fish farm for free.
“We were surprised when we were told to accompany the NBI agents to Dagupan City where we were charged with violating Republic Act No. 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law, and Republic Act No. 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, when we had nothing to do with the children who filed the complaint, nor anyone else who were working at the fish farms,” they said.
In the NBI’s urgent ex-parte motion for the issuance of the hold departure order, Jaymalin described the foreigners as “flight risks.” The NBI, he said, had also filed a motion for reconsideration in the prosecutor’s office on July 30.
Provincial prosecutor Abraham Ramos, who dismissed the complaint, said, “The raid was not urgent and the authorities should have secured first a search warrant from a competent court before they conducted a search and seizure within the premises of the place of business of the respondents.”
Jaymalin said the dismissal of the complaint was “highly irregular” and “suspicious” because it was issued a day after the Chinese filed a counteraffidavit.