12 suspected human trafficking victims rescued in Zamboanga City
MANILA, Philippines — Twelve suspected human trafficking victims who were about to leave the country were rescued at the Zamboanga International Seaport (ZIS), the Bureau of Immigration (BI) reported Tuesday.
BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the victims were about to board passenger ship M/V Antonia bound for Sandakan, in Sabah last December 17 when they were intercepted.
Medina said inspectors noticed inconsistencies in the victims’ answers when they were interviewed, prompting officials to stop defer their departure.
In his report, BI-ZIS head supervisor Ibrahim Lim said all the victims are women who could not explain why they were leaving Zamboanga.
The victims could not explain the purpose why they were sailing to Malaysia either, Lim said.
“Because of this incident we were able to thwart an attempt by these trafficking syndicates to spirit their victims out of the country. They mistakenly thought that we are less strict in screening passengers departing in our ports outside of Manila,” Medina was quoted as saying in a statement.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, meanwhile, said that BI personnel should remain vigilant.
“They (human traffickers) are relentless in their schemes despite the holiday season,” Morente said, adding that BI officers at the Zamboanga port have been on alert to ensure that the southern borders will not be abused by traffickers and illegal recruiters who transport victims to Malaysia without proper documents.
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