17 ‘trafficked women’ rescued-A A +A
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
AFTER her Canadian boyfriend stopped supporting her, Jenny (not her real name) said she was enticed by a friend to dance at D’ Sisters KTV Bar.
“Since I need money to support the daily needs of my child and family, I decided to apply sometime in May 2012,” said the 24-year-old mother in her affidavit.
Jenny was one of the 17 women who were rescued from the bar on Gen. Maxilom Ave., Cebu City last Friday night. Two female bar employees were arrested.
Four of the rescued women are believed to be minors, but only one admitted she is below the legal age of 18, police said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 is verifying the ages of the 17 alleged trafficking victims.
Yesterday morning, the police filed a complaint of qualified human trafficking in persons, a violation of Republic Act (RA) 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, against the two employees.
The floor manager and cashier of the bar were charged by the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force before the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office.
The real names of the victims and the accused are withheld because of the
confidentiality provision of RA 9208.
In their affidavit, the task force’s two police decoys said the suspects accepted a “penalty fee” of P3,500, so they can take out girls for “sexual services.”
After the suspects accepted the marked bills, the police conducted the raid to arrest them and rescue the girls.
The victims, four of whom are believed to be minors, were under the custody of DSWD 7.
Edna Regudo, social worker of DSWD 7, told Sun.Star Cebu only one has been initially confirmed as a minor.
She said they have conducted initial interviews but will still review the victims’ answers through legal documents.
The victims were immediately debriefed right after the incident.
“This was to soothe them and rid their fears,” Regudo said.
The social worker revealed that one of the four victims she talked with said she personally applied at the bar. The other three were recruited through an acquaintance.
Regudo said the victims were coping well as of yesterday but asked to be released.
“Normal ra hinuon gyud na gusto sila mogawas (It’s normal they want to leave),” she said.
Last month, the police received information from concerned citizens, including the International Justice Mission (IJM), that there were minors being prostituted in D’ Sisters Bar.
Prosecutor Rodulph Joseph Val Carrillo gave the suspects until June 21 to file their counter-affidavits. He will resolve the complaint on June 26.
In her affidavit, Jenny said her work starts at 8 p.m. and ends 3 a.m. She receives a salary of P200 every night. Aside from that, she receives tips and commissions from lady’s drinks, at P60 each.
“We dance by pairs. We have a costume and we rent it out from Sisters Bar. We pay P20 for our costume. We wear tubes and mini-skirts. Most of the time, the music is fast,” she said.
Meanwhile, Andrew Sawchenko of IJM said he was pleased with the efforts of the PRO 7 in their drive against human trafficking.
Based on the non-government organization’s report, a total of 445 sex trafficking victims were rescued by law enforcers in Cebu from 2004 to May 2012.
Through IJM intervention, 130 suspects were arrested for violation of RA 9208.
This year, IJM is supporting 73 cases of RA 9208 in the Cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.
Many rescued victims are reportedly still affiliated with IJM and have been staying in shelters in different communities in Cebu.
IJM also reported that human trafficking victims often move from one place to another.
Nearly half of IJM Cebu clients are originally from Metro Cebu, while the rest are from other parts of Cebu Province and the Visayas, Luzon and Mindanao.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 12, 2012.