AUTHORITIES have rescued 14 would-be victims of human trafficking on two occasions in this city and in the province of Tawi-Tawi, the Philippine Navy reported Saturday, February 10, 2024.
The Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) said five of the 14 would-be victims were rescued on board a commercial vessel at the port of Zamboanga City on Wednesday, February 7.
The NFWM withheld the identities of the five rescued would-be victims except to say they are from Pagadian City and Tukuran town in Zamboanga del Sur and Calumpang village, General Santos City.
Accordingly, they were bound for Malaysia, via the province of Tawi-Tawi, without the necessary travel and working documents.
Upon arrival in Tawi-Tawi, they will be escorted and assisted by unidentified persons to Malaysia.
The NFWM said the rescued would-be human trafficking victims were brought to the Women and Children Protection Center-Mindanao Field Unit (WCPC-MFU) for profiling and documentation.
They were turned over to the Processing Center for Displaced Persons of the Department of Social Welfare and Development regional office for temporary shelter, counseling, assessment, and evaluation.
The NFWM said the remaining nine—six females and three males—would-be victims were rescued aboard a commercial vessel at the port of Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi on Sunday, February 4.
Rosabella Sulani, head of Bongao Municipal Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking, interviewed the victims and found out that they were bound for Malaysia for a promised job.
However, Sulani said they have no legal documents necessary for work thus, making them potential illegal entrants vulnerable to trafficking.
Further interview revealed that the would-be victims will be fetched by a certain Abdul of Kota Kinabalu, and Mila and Ahmin, of Tawau, Malaysia, to certain locations in Malaysia.
The NFWM said the rescued individuals were taken to the Maritime Police Assistance Post at Bongao Pier for profiling and documentation.
They were turned over to the Office of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Development (MSWDO) in Bongao for counseling, and stress debriefing and other assistance.
Meanwhile, the NFWM said it remains resolute in combating human trafficking and ensuring the safety and well-being of potential victims, emphasizing the commitment to safeguarding vulnerable individuals from exploitation in the Western Mindanao region. (SunStar Zamboanga)