MANILA, Philippines – In line with the government’s efforts to intensify anti-trafficking law, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) has rescued some 106 persons, who were being smuggled overseas in three separate operations this month.
This was announced by Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is the chairman emeritus of IACAT.
Binay said members of the Zamboanga Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force (ZSBATTF) rescued 85 of the would-be trafficking victims on board the ML Kadrina at the boundary of Zamboanga and Pilas Islands last June 4.
“This is one of the biggest hauls we had this year. We intercepted 150 persons who were on board. But only 65 were officially declared on the ship’s manifest.” Binay said.
“What is worse was that the lives of the legitimate passengers were also put at risk because the boat was overloaded,” he added.
Binay said the ZSBATTF has been monitoring the boat after receiving information that it will transport 40 would-be trafficking victims to Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Binay said another 10 persons were intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 on Independence Day after causing a commotion which caught the attention IACAT agents.
“Upon investigation, we learned that the passengers wanted to lodge a complaint against their recruiter who processed their travel documents and promised them work in the United States,” the Vice President said.
“We were also able to arrest the recruiter who was with the 10 when they were intercepted by IACAT operatives,” he added.
Moreover, minor who was supposedly being forced to become a stripper in a Manila bar was rescued by IACAT on June 19.
Furthermore, a Malaysian was held at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport last June 7 who was waiting for his flight along with his fiancée, whom the council believed to be a trafficking victim.
Binay said the victim was convinced by IACAT agents to file a cast against the Malaysian. The suspect, on the other hand, will be facing charges in violation of the Anti-Trafficking Act of 2003.
Earlier this year, the United States Department of State released this year’s Global Trafficking in Persons Report, which put the Philippines in Tier 2 status.
Being in the Tier 2 status means the country does not meet the minimum requirements prescribed in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protections Act, but is doing significant efforts to comply.
“We are taking the recommendations of the report seriously and are now looking into how we can further intensify our anti-trafficking operations and increase our conviction rate,” Binay said.
The Vice President said he will meet with the IACAT about this matter when he gets back to the country from Rome in July.