Twenty-five women were rescued by the Zamboanga sea-based anti-human trafficking task force in two separate operations last Monday.
Acting on a tip from an informant, authorities first rescued nine women who were being kept in a safe house in Barangay Rio Hondo.
The women were to be brought to Malaysia to work, even without the proper travel documents.
In a follow-up operation, police rescued 16 more women who had already boarded a ship bound for Malaysia.
According to Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Regional Director Police Senior Superintendent Mario Rariza, the women were hidden in the cargo area of the ship Danica Joy. Only the members of the ship's crew were allowed to enter the area.
“We were able to rescue the victims before the departure of Danica Joy,” said Rariza. “As early as 2 a.m., we already had information that the women were going to board that ship.”
The CIDG is investigating the ship's captain in order to determine whether he knew that his ship was being used for human trafficking.
“The women came from different provinces in Luzon,” said Rariza. They were hoping to get good jobs in Malaysia even without their travel documents.
“They think that it's better to work abroad than here in the Philippines... but they become victims of human trafficking.”