Blas F. Ople Center
February 27, 2012
Twenty-two women including several minors bound for Dubai and eventually Syria, Jordan and Lebanon were rescued by a joint operations of the National Bureau of Investigation’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division and the Blas F. Ople Center as well as other member-agencies of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking from a transit house inside Villanueva Village in Paranaque City at 2.30 pm today.
The women, mostly from Mindanao, said they were promised overseas cjobs as household workers and that they would know their final destination and who their employers are upon arrival in Dubai.
The transit house was as bungalow rented by the illegal recruitment syndicate for Php13,000 a month, and was bare of furnitures, forcing the women to sleep on pieces of cardboard and “banigs”. The house was identified by an informant who sought the help of the Ople Center in out of concern for a relative who remains trapped in Syria.
“We call on the public to help us identify more of these transit homes for victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment as well as to notify immediately the police and local governments if they know of people recruiting illegally for Dubai, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon,” Susan Ople of the Blas F. Ople Center said.
In a press conference following the rescue mission held at the NBI, Vice-President Jejomar Binay who is the chairman emeritus of the IACAT, vowed stronger action against illegal recruiters and human traffickers especially of women bound for Syria.
Based on interviews with the Ople Center, the women expressed fears that their recruiters might run after them and force them to reimburse previous expenses connected with their airfare to Manila and stay in the transit house. They also expressed desire to leave for abroad because their families have no other means of livelihood.
One of the victims recruited from Maguindanao, said she was forced to leave and try her luck with the recruiter because of the armed conflict in her town. “She wasn’t really aware and didn’t really know where in the Middle East she would end up. The recruiter only promised her entry to Dubai as tourist and from there, the agency would process her visa and papers so she can work as a domestic worker in the Middle East.”
Other IACAT member agencies such as the DSWD and Visayan Forum Foundation were present during the operations to look after the minors in the group. The operations were conducted by the NBI-AHTRAD Division after two weeks’ surveillance on the said transit house.
The Ople Center can be reached thru 833-9562 while IACAT’s hotline is 1343.