MANILA — Nine Filipinos who were allegedly victims of human trafficking in Malaysia and Thailand have been brought home, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Thursday.
In a statement, BI said the Filipinos arrived in 2 batches from the said Southeast Asian countries last week. The 3 victims rescued from Malaysia were repatriated on May 9, while 6 others from Thailand were brought home on May 11.
The victims from Thailand reportedly left the Philippines as tourists late last year and were promised customer service jobs with pays ranging from P40,000 to P60,000, the BI said.
"Like other cases of human trafficking in the Southeast Asian region, the victims were transported to Mae Sot City, Myanmar to be forced to work in online love scams and crypto rings,” BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said.
The rescued Filipinos said they had to "endure physical torture" when they failed to meet their quotas, and were detained until they could pay ransom for their release.
"It is gut-wrenching hearing how they suffered," Tansingco said, noting that one victim's parents had to sell their farm land to produce a large sum of money only to be duped abroad.
All 6 victims were recruited by strangers they met on Facebook.
Meanwhile, BI also said the 3 other rescued victims left the Philippines for Malaysia in the last quarter of 2022 aboard a boat through Zamboanga and Tawi-Tawi.
The victims said they all traveled to Malaysia to work as massage therapists in Miri, a city in the island of Borneo, only to be forced to become sex workers in spa parlors offering "extra service."
The rescued Filipinos said they were forced to work everyday and were only given rest days during their monthly period.
"Even when they were rescued by Malaysian authorities, the victims alleged that they were forced to clean restrooms at a police station where they were also verbally abused," the BI said.
The victims eventually sought the help of the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur, which later helped them return to the Philippines.
Upon their arrival in Manila, they disclosed that they were recruited by a certain "Cherry," "Juvy", and "Lorena" who facilitated their departure to evade inspection in the ports of Zamboanga and Tawi-Tawi.
Tansingco reminded the public not to fall prey to human trafficking schemes.
"Securing documents to work abroad might be tedious, but it also protects aspiring overseas Filipino workers against illegal recruitment and other hazards abroad," he said.
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