CEBU CITY -- Fake identities and ages prompted the police to stop three minors and two adults from sailing to Manila Monday afternoon.
They were intercepted in Pier 4, Cebu City for another suspected case of human trafficking, just three days after law enforcers intercepted 15 teenagers and young women from Bohol last Friday.
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In Monday's case, three females and two males—ages 15, 16, 17, 18 and 23—all hail from various barangays in the city of Toledo, Cebu.
Their 30-year-old recruiter boarded a plane earlier for Manila and evaded arrest.
A confidentiality provision of the law against human trafficking prohibits Sun.Star Cebu from mentioning the names of both the suspect and the possible victims.
The 701st Maritime Police Station intercepted the group around 2 p.m., after they were tipped by a shipping vessel's officer that one of them, a 15-year-old boy, was using a fake identity.
He was trying to pass himself off as a girl.
The vessel was minutes away from departure when the police learned, upon inspection, that the other group members used fake ages in their tickets.
They allegedly received the tickets from their recruiter.
The boy, when interviewed by Sun.Star Cebu, revealed they were promised jobs in a restaurant in Manila.
He said they were promised P3,000 a month and assured of a better life in the big city. Most of their parents didn’t know about their plans, he said.
Seventeen-year-old Maria (real name withheld) said she began to have doubts about their recruiter when he decided to travel separately.
They had been told to meet in a terminal in Toledo City at 9 a.m. Their recruiter shared a ride with them to the Cebu City pier. And then he left them to travel on their own.
“Giingnan na lang mi niya nga kamo nala'y bahala. Ayaw mo pahalata nga mga menor de edad mo. Didto nako nagduda (He told us to proceed on our own and not to act like minors. That’s when I began to have doubts),” said Maria.
However, because they were about to sail, she decided to go along.
“Sugaton ra kuno mi niya didto. Ihatag ang among pocket money (He promised to meet us in Manila with our pocket money),” she added.
Maria was an out-of-school youth. She said she decided to go to Manila to seek a better future.
She and the rest of the group were transferred Monday to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Central Visayas, where they will undergo evaluation and counseling.
DSWD-Central Visayas information officer Jaybee Binghay revealed they recently set up hotline numbers regarding cases of human trafficking.
In coordination with International Justice Mission and Visayan Forum, she said they will advocate against the trafficking of women and minors. The numbers are 09177030967, 4065832 and 4166839.
Also Monday, human trafficking complaints were filed against a 41-year-old mother and her 22-year-old daughter for attempting to transport 12 girls and three young women from Cebu City to Manila last August 5.
The two were charged before the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor with violating Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
In compliance with RA 9208, the names of the two suspects are being withheld.
Maritime Police officer Joselito Blazo said the suspects recruited the 15 women “for the purpose of sexual exploitation, including pornography.”
But in an interview before inquest proceedings at the prosecutor’s office, the mother denied they would intended to sell the young girls.
She said they merely accompanied the women upon the request of their parents, so they could get jobs as nannies and housemaids in Manila.
“Wala kaming ginawang masama. Sila ang nag-request sa amin para makatrabo sa Maynila. Tumulong lamang kami sa kanila. (We did nothing wrong. They asked for our help so they can work in Manila, so we helped them),” the mother told reporters.
Four of the rescued girls told the prosecutor otherwise. They said they were warned that they would be made to undress, allegedly by foreign clients.
The Cebu Maritime Police arrested the duo last Friday after they failed to present documents that would justify why they were in the company of the young women.
The mother said the parents of the 15 rescued women visited them while they were in detention, to support their claim that they were merely helping the girls look for jobs.
The mother and daughter signed a waiver of detention during the inquest proceedings before Cebu City Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Val Carillo.
Attached to the complaint were the joint affidavit of the arresting officers, police blotter entries and the affidavits of the alleged victims, among other documents. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 09, 2011.