48 human trafficking victims rescued in Zamboanga
ZAMBOANGA CITY — Forty-eight persons believed to be victims of human trafficking were rescued Monday night at the sea waters of this city.
Rear Admiral Rene Medina, commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NAVFORWEM), said operating units of the Philippine Navy, in coordination with Joint Task Force Zamboanga, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Presidential Center on Transnational Crime, intercepted a sea vessel reportedly engaged in human trafficking.
“This ML Moneza, an inter-island sea vessel, is carrying 95 passengers and five crew members. Upon thorough inspection of our personnel, it turned out that there are only 20 legitimate passengers, all residents of Taganak Island in Tawi-Tawi, while a total of 75 passengers are undocumented with 48 identified as ‘trafficking in persons,’” Medina said.
Of the 48 individuals, nine were females, 37 were males and two minors. They were immediately turned over to the custody of the DSWD9 so that they can be transported back to their respective hometowns.
The ship captain of ML Moneza, Murphy Kailani, is currently being interrogated. The vessel is registered in Taganak and ferries passengers from the said island to Zamboanga City and vice versa.
Medina said he deployed operating troops composed of two Navy SEAL teams, personnel from the Naval Intelligence Service Group, personnel from the Department of Justice, and representatives from the DSWD using the multipurpose attack craft BA486 and patrol boat light class.
“The successful foiling of human trafficking is a result of Joint Maritime Law Enforcement operations of the Philippine Navy and partner agencies. The Philippine Navy, through the Naval Forces Western Mindanao and partners, will continue to deter any unlawful activities in its area of operations for a secured Western Mindanao maritime environment,” Medina said. /ee