123 trafficking victims rescued in Sulu
ZAMBOANGA CITY—More than 100 victims of human trafficking, mostly from Cebu and Bohol provinces, were rescued from an island in Sulu province on Wednesday.
Rear Adm. Donn Anthony Miraflor, commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said the victims were about to be trafficked across the border to either Malaysia or Indonesia and were forced to do spearfishing while awaiting for their cross-border travel.
They were reportedly drugged to endure the hard labor.
Miraflor said their unit also recovered war materials and illegal drugs in Tubalubac Island, Aluh Bunah village of Pangutaran town in Sulu, where the 123 trafficked individuals were rescued.
He said the victims “were also forced to use illegal drugs, specifically shabu (crystal meth), to endure the hard work.”
Investigators also found out that the prime suspect, identified only as Jammang, and 15 of his cohorts, recruiters and handlers had high-powered firearms. They managed to escape as law enforcers arrived for the rescue operation.
The Naval Task Force 61, which conducted the rescue, had closely coordinated the operation with the Ministry of Labor and Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the local police, and the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center-Mindanao field unit.
Among those recovered from the house where the victims were made to stay were nine suspected improvised nonelectric blasting caps, four-meter time fuse, an M1 Garand rifle, an M14 rifle, Winchester Trademark Armory, an M16A1 rifle, 80 live ammunitions of 30-caliber machine gun and 10 grams of suspected shabu, among others.
Miraflor said the rescued human trafficking victims were already turned over to the Bangsamoro’s MSSD for documentation and other necessary support while the confiscated pieces of evidence were brought to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Sulu-Police Field Unit for documentation and proper disposition.