MANILA – Cases of human trafficking surged to nearly 2,000 during the first two months of the year, almost the same number for the entire 2022.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, in an interview Monday, said trafficked Filipinos are usually taken via Thailand, then to Myanmar where rescue becomes difficult once victims are taken to rebel-infested areas.
“It is alarming, very alarming,” Remulla told reporters after an inter-agency meeting at Malacañang Palace in Manila.
He said involved agencies will focus on Southeast Asian countries.
“This is what we call modern-day slavery. Kaya nga sana ang Pilipino, mag-iingat. Dapat meron tayong checklist bago gustuhin natin mag-abroad (Filipinos should be cautious. We should have a checklist before we go abroad),” he advised.
Remulla said the problem could have been compounded by the pandemic, which forced Filipinos to seek income from all means.
“Maraming naghahanap ng opportunity. Ang problema lang, ang Pilipino kasi, ang tingin nila ‘pag sa abroad, sobra mas mabuti lagi. Eh kaso wala kang depensa ‘pag nasa abroad ka na (Many are looking for better opportunities. The problem is Filipinos think that going abroad is always the better option and it happens that when abroad, they are no longer be protected),” he said.
The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) is mandated by law to coordinate and monitor the implementation of Republic Act 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, with the DOJ as the lead agency.
The IACAT conducts different projects geared towards the elimination of trafficking in persons, prevention of the occurrence of trafficking, protection and rehabilitation of victims, and conviction of trafficking offenders. (PNA)