Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday, November 28 said the Philippine government is now doubling all efforts to rescue some 31 more individuals who are said to be victims of human trafficking in Myanmar.
Hontiveros, citing the testimony of “Rita” one of the human trafficking victims who was lured to accept a job in Thailand but ended up forced to work and dupe people to cryptocurrency investment scams, about 31 Filipinos were still left behind in Myanmar.
“They have a quota and if they couldn't deliver, especially among the 31 left behind, Rita knows they are being hurt and all of them who were not able to deliver on their quotas were subject to stress, threatened to be made to do 1,000 push ups to lift gallons water, hit by electric rods, and even stabbed to death,” Hontiveros said in an interview on ABS-CBN.
“Rita said even the women were threatened that their corpses would just be left somewhere out in the open when they die. Really, really, very, very abusive working conditions,” she said.
Rita, was one of the 12 persons, who were the first batch to be rescued by the government.
“We only know of those 31 others. Hindi pa natin alam yan ang pinaiimbestiga ko sa ating mga awtoridad and thanks to our DMW, sabi nila nag-iimbestiga na sila (We don't know yet the exact number, that's what I'm investigating with our authorities. And thanks to our Department of Migrant Workers), they said they are investigating. We don't know how many Filipinos are in this predicament,” she said.
Hontiveros reiterated her call for the Department of Foreign Affairs to further step up to rescue the other remaining Filipinos by calling on their counterparts to fully cooperate with Philippine authorities.
“Tayo at ang Myanmar parehong mga myembro sa (We and Myanmar are both memberes of the) ASEAN, and I already did make a call sa DFA among other government agencies,” she said.
“Again, I thank the DFA for helping Rita cross the border back to Thailand and meet her there. DFA could open up this subject of discussion with Myanmar counterparts),” she said.
Hontiveros also said Facebook has also communicated to her office when they read the news and saw the social media posts of what happened to “Rita” and her friends.
“They communicated with my office and asked for the information about these Facebook pages. The pages Filipinos in Myanmar, Filipinos in Thailand, and POGO secret files and they said they would take action on this,” she said.
“Nanawagan din ako sa ibang mga (I’m also asking other) platforms, that Rita said have been used. WhatsApp, Telegram even dating and professional apps like Linkedin. And of course, our authorities, Bureau of Immigration (BI), that they would really look out for this.
“Because dumadaan sa kanila eh, palabas at paloob (it passes through them) . So they are also a line of defense for our nationals,” she added.