THIRTEEN Negrenses, including minors and residents of E.B. Magalona, were rescued in Virac, Catanduanes after they became victims of human trafficking.

Two of those who were rescued were forced to engage in prostitution due to financial needs while nine of them were forced by their recruiter to serve as guest relations officers (GROs) in a night club.

Of the 13 victims, one is from Victorias City.

In a press conference yesterday, E.B. Magalona Mayor David Albert Lacson said Secretary to the Mayor Allan Villaruz led the team from the municipal government who fetched the victims.

Villaruz identified the recruiter as Christina Prano Yao, 31, of Barangay Tuburan, E.B. Magalona.

Yao is now detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) jail facility in Virac after she was charged for two counts of human trafficking, three counts of qualified human trafficking, three counts of violation of Republic Act 9231 or child Labor, and three counts of violation of Republic Act 7610, or child abuse.

Villaruz said that based on the testimonies of the victims, Yao recruited them on April 24, 2015 to work in Catanduanes as cook and waitresses for a carinderia, and as house helpers with a monthly salary of P5,000.

On May 21, they were rescued by the task force created by the Provincial Government of Catanduanes composed of a join team from the Provincial Welfare and Development Office and Catanduanes Provincial Police Office at the Star Night Bar in Virac.

Of the 13 victims, eight were brought back to Negros Occidental by the joint team of the E.B. Magalona municipal government and Catanduanes Task Force. The five were left in Catanduanes and are now under the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice as their testimonies were the basis for filing the cases against Yao.

Lacson said he will meet with the town’s barangay captains today to make them aware of the incident and warn their constituents against illegal recruiters.