Boosting government’s fight against human trafficking, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Bicol has rescued nine minors from human traffickers in separate operations, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in a statement Thursday.
Two of the minors were rescued in Tabaco, Albay, while seven minors were rescued in Sorsogon, Baldoz said.
The two minors from Tabaco are females, aged 14 and 17, who worked in a local beerhouse. One of them escaped on Aug. 16 and appealed for help from people in a religious procession, prompting local authorities to immediately conduct rescue operations.
A certain “Vivian” was said to have recruited the two minors in Zamboanga Sibugay, according to the DOLE regional office’s investigations. The recruiter allegedly got P20,000 from the entertainment establishment implicated in the incident, DOLE added.
The agency also said the seven minors from Sorsogon, aged 15 to 17, were allegedly recruited by two suspects to work in two establishments in Bulan, Sorsogon.
The suspects were charged of large-scale illegal recruitment, a violation of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. If proven guilty, the recruiters face the penalty a 20-year prison term and a P2-million maximum fine.
A global scourge
Trafficking in human beings, the illegal trade in people — usually minors — for forced labor or sexual exploitation, is a global scourge that involves over 12 million people worldwide, according to data from the Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking.
The Philippines recently made gains in the fight against this international menace, prompting the United States government to remove the Philippines from its Tier 2 watch list in June due to its increased trafficking-related convictions in 2010.
The Philippines has around five million child laborers, a number of whom are in the worst forms of exploitation such as Internet pornography, prostitution, and slave labor, based on estimates by the International Labor Organization.
Meanwhile, DOLE released P550,000 as emergency employment wage for around 253 displaced workers in Subic, Zambales. These workers were among the 65 families displaced after a landslide in August.
Besides the P550,000 for emergency wage, DOLE Region III director Leopoldo de Jesus said the displaced workers will gain alternative livelihood opportunities in making furniture, rags, walis tambo, and candies.
He said the agency has also allotted P618,000 for the training-cum-production of the livelihood projects. — PE/VS, GMA News