By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday said the Department of Foreign Affairs should see to it that all trafficked Filipinos, especially minors are repatriated back to the Philippines as soon as possible.
In a statement, Hontiveros said that “Alice,” a trafficked Filipina whose situation came to light during a press conference led by Hontiveros last March, has finally arrived in Manila.
Also, she added that Marites Pantonal, another trafficked Filipina who was imprisoned in Syria simply for asking her employer if she could go back home after her husband died, is also now back in the Philippines.
“I laud the DFA, particularly the embassy in Damascus, for its swift action after our hearing. While we are grateful that Alice and Marites are no longer in Syria, the DFA should continuously investigate if there are still trafficked Filipinos in the war-torn country who are not yet in their custody. Our kababayans, who are possibly also facing brutal treatment from their employers, should all be rescued at once,” Hontiveros said.
“Mula sa ilegal na kalakalan sa Bureau of Immigration (BI) dito sa Pilipinas, hanggang sa makarating sa Syria, tambak ang pang-aabusong pinapasan ng mga kababaihang nagbabakasakali para lang makapagtrabaho sa ibang bansa. Ipakita natin na may mga mabubuting tao at institusyon pa rin silang maasahan sa gobyerno,” the senator added.
In her video, “Alice” shared how her recruiter would pay BI officers, who would then assist her and other trafficked women at the airport so they could exit the country without inspection. “Alice” and Marites, who both suffered abuse by their Syrian employers, will attend the Committee on Women’s second hearing on the issue tomorrow, Tuesday, May 4.
“The hearing tomorrow will reveal more. Napag-alaman namin na may mga menor de edad na nata-traffick din papuntang Syria. Marami pang nakakaalarmang kuwento ang bagong saksi. Patototohanan nila kung gaano na kalawak at kalalim ang negosyo ng sindikato, hindi lamang sa loob ng BI, kundi sa iba ring parte ng gobyerno,” Hontiveros said.
“We should not stop until the very last trafficked Filipino woman is safe. Inaasahan ko na hindi titigil ang DFA sa pagliligtas ng ating kababaihan mula sa karahasan na inabot nila sa Syria. Ipakita natin sa ating kababaihan na kayang-kaya natin silang ipagtanggol at kaya nating papanagutin ang mga may sala. Our women not only deserve rescue, but they also deserve justice,” Hontiveros concluded. (AI/MTVN)