56 victims of human trafficking rescued in Zamboanga City port
ZAMBOANGA CITY –– The Philippine Coast Guard rescued here on Monday more than 50 victims of human trafficking about to board a commercial vessel bound for Sandakan in Sabah.
Lieutenant Commander Jesse Guiniling, chief of the Philippine Coast Guard Zamboanga District Station, said 56 women were about to board the MV Antonia 1 of the Aleson Shipping Lines on Monday night when composite units of anti-trafficking agencies rescued them in an operation.
Maria Socorro Rojas, the city social welfare officer, said personnel at the Overseas Passengers Assistance Center (Opac) noticed signs that the women passengers were “being trafficked,” prompting them to alert the authorities.
The Opac personnel came from the composite agencies of the Zamboanga Sea Base Anti-Trafficking Task Force, the Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking of the Department of Justice, and the Aliens Control Office of the Bureau of Immigration, Regional Office 9.
“The personnel at the port spotted some irregularities,” Rojas said, referring to Opac. “The 56 women possessed red-flag indicators that they could be victims of human trafficking, so a joint rescue operation was conducted,” Rojas said.
Among the signs that alerted them to the possibility of trafficking were the absence of a contract or employment documents and the use of other person’s passports. The women, who came in groups, also said during the interview that they did not know they would pass Zamboanga City.
The women came from different parts of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, but the majority of them came from Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.
The women were brought to the Home of the Women in Barangay San Roque here for further profiling, documentation, and proper disposition.
“They are staying in one of the shelters here and after the assessment, we will send them back to their respective places,” Rojas said.
Edited by LZB
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