Task force sent to Mindanao to stop traffickers preying on typhoon victims
MANILA, Philippines—The government’s Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat) said Saturday it sent a team to the Caraga and Davao regions in Mindanao following reports that human smuggling syndicates were preying on communities affected by Typhoon Pablo.
Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar of the Department of Justice, which co-chairs Iacat, said the team was dispatched to check on the veracity of the reports as well as to educate the communities on the perils of human trafficking and how to detect traffickers.
“We must act fast as human trafficking syndicates are known to victimize members of depressed communities. The people must be apprised of these syndicates’ modus operandi and the evils of human trafficking,” Salazar said in a press statement.
Some of the human traffickers have reportedly recruited—or were trying to recruit—residents to become household workers in urban areas or as undocumented workers abroad.
The team from the National Inter-Agency Task Force Against Trafficking, headed by senior assistant city prosecutor Raymond Jonathan Lledo, held public dialogues and consultations with the communities.
Lledo was joined by representatives from the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group; the PNP’s Women and Children Protection Center; the Department of Social Welfare and Development; Philippine Overseas Employment Administration; the United Nations Children’s Fund and UN Population Fund.
The team returned to Manila on Friday after a weeklong mission in Mindanao but Saturday’s press release did not say what its findings were.
Lledo said in the statement that members of the team visited the towns of Nabunturan and Compostela in Compostela Valley, Boston in Davao Oriental and Prosperidad City Agusan del Sur.
“We sought the cooperation of the members of the community to be vigilant and to report to the authorities any possible trafficking operations,” he said.
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