Second District Board Member Ryan Maminta is urging concerned agencies to look into a recent incident where he said two individuals from Roxas town died from food poisoning while traveling from Bangui Island in Malaysia and on the way to Balabac town to be brought to a hospital there.

Maminta said in his privilege speech during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session on Tuesday that the victims were just two out of hundreds of individuals who were undocumented and were “seemingly victims of illegal activities, particularly human trafficking and illegal recruitment.”

He said he received records of reports that there are more than 200 individuals who are already there and hundreds are still in the process of going to Malaysia for work who might be victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking. He however refused to divulge more details saying what he has now are “sensitive information.”

He explained that because the individuals are undocumented, they don’t want to be treated at a hospital in Malaysia for fear of getting arrested.

He also called on the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID), Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to take necessary actions to address the recent incident.

“What we want to happen is for the Committee on Human Rights to check on the backdoor entrance and exits in  southern Palawan with regards to the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 9208 as amended by RA 10364 or the Anti-Human Trafficking in Persons Act in the province together with other rules being implemented by different government agencies including RA 8042 as amended by RA 10022,” he said.

In this regard, I would like to move through the Committee on Human Rights and Peace and Order to invite representatives from DMW, BID, DOJ, PNP, NBI, DFA and also from Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Council, together with the Provincial Legal Office, Provincial Peace and Order Council and other agencies that might be concerned, to discuss possible actions on the matter,” he added.

Board Member Roseller Pineda on the other hand said proposed a separate action to address the matter.

“I also have in mind a resolution requesting the Palawan Police Provincial Office to conduct an investigation regarding the incident, Pineda who chairs the Sanggunian Panlalawigan Committee on Human Rights and Peace and Order.

Maminta added that aside from the conduct of an investigation, what he wants is further for moves to stop more illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

“We need to deter the proliferation and perpetuation of these activities in the province because we have a busy port in southern Palawan and alam natin malapit lang yan where approximately nine miles from Mangsee, you are already in Malaysia,” he explained.

“So we have to set the direction on what actions to do and policies to implement or to strengthen what is already being implemented. We also need to know what they are doing to stop the proliferation of human trafficking and illegal recruitment,” he added.

He also stated that while they can no longer do anything about what happened, similar incidents can be averted in the future.

“That’s why concerned agencies must take actions. We need to talk how the laws can be further strengthened and properly implemented so that this incident will not happen again,” he said.

Furthermore, he said incidents like this happened because there were lapses in the implementation of laws, particularly in the monitoring and detection, adding that somebody must be held liable.

“Human trafficking is not an ordinary crime and there should be a case build up and search for individuals involved, on the part of law enforcement. We are not going to take this as a small stuff because people died. There might be a syndicate behind this,” he said.