A man from Bataraza town was arrested in an entrapment operation Monday afternoon by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on charges of human and sex trafficking involving three women including a 16-year-old child.
The suspect, who was nabbed in a pension house in Barangay Rio Tuba, Bataraza, was identified as 22-year-old Daven Tingson, a resident of Sofronio Española. Aside from the victim who is a minor, the two others were aged 23 and 26.
An intelligence bureau agent who cannot be named said Tingson transacts with his clients by using his mobile phone. He would later bring the victims to a specific area where he would offer them to clients.
The agent said that before their entrapment operation, they placed Tingson under surveillance to know how long he has been engaged in the illegal activity.
Tingson, on the other hand, claimed he merely wanted to help the women who lost their jobs in a bar where they all used to work together.
“Dati na po kaming nagta-trabaho sa bar. Ngayon lang po ito… hindi ko sila pinilit na sumama dito. Sila kasi nangangailangan dahil may mga anak sila,” Tingson said.
On the minor victim, Tingson said she only joined them recently because she was “in need of money”.
“Kailangan daw niya ng pera. Hindi po ako nagbubugaw, minsan lang kapag may guest lang. Bago lang po ako, simula po ng may pandemya,” he added.
The NBI said that aside from the human trafficking case for violation of RA 9208 as amended by RA 10364 or the “Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012″, Tingson will also be charged for violating Republic Act 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act” for the sex trafficking of a minor.
Provincial government vs human trafficking, sex slavery
Tingson’s arrest was a collaborative effort between the NBI and the provincial government of Palawan to curtail human trafficking and sex slavery in the province, said Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta, executive director of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and who assists the province in the implementation of Anti-Illegal Recruitment and Trafficking-In-Persons initiatives.
Matta said that based on the information they received from their “assets”, Tingson has been trafficking women for a long time.
“Dati na niyang ginagawa yan. Talagang nagre-recruit talaga yan. Talagang pinagkakakitaan niya ng pera yan talaga. Even before pa,” he said.
Aside from Tingson, they have also placed several persons under close monitoring for engaging in human trafficking and sex slavery in different parts of the province.
He said the problem might be difficult to manage, but the provincial government under the leadership of Governor Jose Alvarez is steadfast in its resolve to curtail the trade of humans for forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.
“May mga targets pa kami, mayroon na kaming matagal na gustong pasukin na nawawala ang subjects or let’s say na kulang pa, hindi pa hinog. Talamak ang problema na yan lalo na kung may mga dayo, tapos siyempre alam mo naman maraming mga cash yan at wala naman ibang pagagastusan yan diyan,” he said.
“Hindi lang naman mga bisita, kundi pati mga locals natin, pina-patronize din ang ganyang trabaho. Yan ang problema natin doon (Bataraza). Kasi may mga mga ibang suspek na may support ng lokal. Alam mo naman yan, either barangay, tinatago talaga nila yan para hindi natin makita, hindi natin nade-detect,” Matta added.
Matta said what Tingson was doing is “modern-day slavery” that should be stopped from victimizing women, especially minors.
“Actually, this is against human trafficking, alam niyo naman modern-day slavery kasi yan. May nakalaan na budget dyan. We’ve been doing this doing simula pa ng dumating si Gov. Alvarez sa province — pinupuksa, hinahabol, hinahanap namin ang mga human trafficking operations sa Palawan,” Matta said.