282 of 303 rescued Badjaos to be sent back to Zamboanga City – IACAT

Published June 6, 2021, 9:06 AM

by Jeffrey Damicog


A total of 282 of the 303 members of the Badjao indigenous people (IPs) who were rescued last Friday, June 4, at the Manila North Harbour Seaport will be sent back to Zamboanga City today, June 6.

The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), in a statement, said that 21 of those rescued will have to stay in Manila “due to health reasons.”

It pointed out that the transport of the 303 IPs violated Republic Act No. 9208, also known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, as amended by RA 10364, and RA 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

The IP members were rescued by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP).

IACT said that “all passengers were turned over to a facility for temporary shelter in Quezon City under the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa program by the National Housing Authority.”

It said the rescue was done after the Mindanao Field Unit (MFU) of the PNP’s Women Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC) received information last Wednesday, June 2, from the Zamboanga Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that about 340 members of the Badjao IP were scheduled to depart Zamboanga City aboard a ship bound to Manila.

“The information further disclosed that their travel was facilitated/sponsored by an undisclosed individual,” it said.

After the rescue, IACT also said that social workers and police investigators were able to interview 271 IPs which included 161 adults and 110 minors.

Prior to the June 4 operation, IACT said there were other groups of Badjao IPs who were rescued last month.

It said that 18 IPs, including 10 minors were intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 last May 5 by IACAT intelligence agents and the NAIA Task Force Against Trafficking (NAIATFAT).

Six IPs, three of them minors, were also intercepted last May 30 at the Mactan International Airport in Lapulapu City by the PNP-WCPC Visayas Field Unit, it added.

IACAT Executive Director Jinky Dedumo, also a senior assistant state prosecutor, expressed gratitude to the government agencies which participated in the rescue operation.

“We just want to ensure that our fellowmen will not be exploited or abused in whichever form. We thank all the women and men who supported and exerted efforts to protect our people.” Dedumo said.