The Palawan Provincial Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (PIACAT) has intensified its campaign against human trafficking activities in southern Palawan.
Milma Sangkula, PIACAT executive assistant, told Palawan News the most vulnerable to the growing illegal practice are the Indigenous People (IP) groups.
“Alarming talaga sya kasi bumabalik na naman sila ngayon sa ginagawa nila na papangakuan nila ang biktima ng kung anuo-ano, kasama dyan ang trabaho, malaking sahod pero hindi pala. Mostly talaga sa mga biktima ay hindi rin talaga nila alam na illegal agency ang napasukan nila. Gusto natin na tumaas ang awareness ng mga kababayan natin tungkol dito kasi kawawa talaga sila,” Sangkula said.
She said that recruitment agencies profit from each victim.
Usually, victims are already sold to some individuals in foreign countries before they even arrive, she said.
“Kumikita sila d’yan each person, depende pa sa itsura ng babae, may class A, B and C ‘yan. Pagdating nila doon ay may sasalubong na kaagad sa kanila kaya talagang nabenta na sila nyan. Kaya ito ang gusto natin iparating sa mga kababayan natin na talagang gumagawa din ng paraan ang mga sindikato na ‘to para may makuha sila,” Sangkula pointed out.
Data from the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) showed that Palawan has the highest incidence of human trafficking in the MIMAROPA region from 2015 to 2018 with more than 100 cases reported.
Eight women were trafficked in 2018 compared to only four cases in 2017.
PIACAT has rescued seven women including a minor awaiting travel to Malaysia.
“May mga limitations tayo pagdating sa mga information na ibinibigay natin katulad nito. Hindi tayo allowed magbigay ng ibang impormasyon ng mga biktima,” she said.
In 2018, during the Regional Media Seminar for Trafficking in Person the Department of Justice-Interagency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT) identified Palawan as one of the most vulnerable provinces to human trafficking, commercial sex exploitation, and forced labor.
OJ-IACAT Under Sec. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar attributed Palawan’s vulnerability to human trafficking to the “Balabac backdoor” in the southern Palawan that serves as entry point to Sandakan, Malaysia.
Villar said the Philippines remains to be “a haven for human traffickers due to the issues of poverty, unemployment, internal armed conflict, natural disasters, and the likes, where men, women, and children become vulnerable to illegal recruitment.”
“Some areas are being used as backdoor exits such as] Balabac town in the southern part of Palawan and from there to Sandakan (Malaysia) or from Balabac to Mapun, Tawi-Tawi to Sandakan,” Villar said.
Meanwhile, a shelter for victims of human trafficking at Puerto Princesa City International Airport (PPCIA) is expected to open in 2020.