A total of 657 victims of human trafficking were rescued while 41 suspects were arrested in 2021 during 66 operations conducted by law enforcers.

In a report, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) said that in 2020 there were 317 operations conducted that resulted in the rescue of 30 victims and the arrest of 40 persons.

In 2019, it said, 40 victims were rescued while 62 suspects were arrested in 210 operations.

“The Anti-Trafficking Task Forces assisted in the investigation of 66 successful operations in 2021,” IACAT said.

In its reports, IACAT said:

“One of the notable operations was on 04 June 2021 where 303 Bajaos, indigenous peoples (IPs) from Zamboanga and Basilan, arrived at the Manila North Harbor Seaport and were rescued by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and staff of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). A total of 110 of them are minors. They were eventually sent back to Zamboanga and were assisted by the DSWD and the City of Manila.”

It said the incident last June 4 was “the latest in a series of reported movements of indigenous peoples by an unknown ‘sponsor’ whom authorities are investigating.”

It noted that prior to the June 4 incident, the PNP-Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) Mindanao Field Unit first received information last April 27 that a group of Bajao passengers were traveling to Manila by plane.

Later, it said the PNP rescued at the Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) 18 Bajao IPs last May 5 and another six last May 30.

IACAT coordinates and monitors implementation of Republic Act No. 9208, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

It is headed by the secretary of the Department of Justice.

The other members are the secretaries of Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of the Interior and Local Government; commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration, chief of the Philippine National Police, chairpersons of the Philippine Commission on Women and Commission on Filipinos Overseas;

Executive director of the Philippine Center for Transnational Crimes, and representatives of the Coalition Against Trafficking In Women – Asia Pacific (non-government organization or NGO representing the women sector), Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute (NGO representing the OFWs sector), and International Justice Mission (NGO representing the children sector).

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/12/31/657-human-trafficking-victims-rescued-in-2021/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=657-human-trafficking-victims-rescued-in-2021)