109 human trafficking cases recorded in Davao Region

Ivy C. Tejano

THERE were 109 human trafficking cases already filed in court as of September this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Davao region reported on October 12, Thursday.

Speaking during the I-Speak Forum at Davao City Engineer's Office (CEO), DOJ-Davao assistant regional prosecutor lawyer Ritzel Polinar said human trafficking still exists.

Of the 109 cases filed in court, 15 resulted to conviction, 13 were acquitted, 17 were dismissed, five were withdrawn, 13 were archived, and 46 are still active.

Polinar said most of the cases involved sexual exploitation and one force labor. She added that the Regional Prosecution Office also noted one child pornography case, of which the youngest victim is one year old.

"Some of the complainants came all the way from Surigao tapos dinala sa Davao kasi pinangakuan ng trabaho. There were also those na from Davao del Norte province or Davao City tapos dinala naman sa Metro Manila," Polinar said.

The DOJ noted 132 cases of human trafficking last year, victimizing 145 persons, Polinar said. Of the 145 victims, 130 of them were females and 15 were males.

From 130 female victims, 84 of them were minors and 46 were adults. As to male victims, 12 were minors and three were adults. A total of 149 persons were charged last year for human trafficking, 73 were females and 76 were males.

Out of the 73 accused females, 46 were detained in various jail facilities in Davao City and the region and 27 remain at large.

Of the 76 accused males, however, 38 were detained while 38 are still large.

Polinar said dismissed and withdrawn cases were due to lack of evidence. It could be that the complainants and victims can no longer be located and/or failed to appear in courts. She added that archived cases involved accused who are at large.

DOJ urged government authorities to intensify their monitoring and surveillance on human trafficking. The office also encouraged people to ask the right government agencies for queries before accepting offers from strangers.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development in Davao, meanwhile, provides transportation and food assistance for the victims, and livelihood, educational and skills training assistance so that the people will not be easily lured to be victims of human trafficking.