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MANILA, Philippines — Nine Filipino victims of alleged human trafficking were rescued and repatriated from Thailand and Malaysia, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Thursday.
BI said the victims returned to Manila in two batches – first one arrived on May 9, and another on May 11.
Six victims from Thailand allegedly left the Philippines as tourists during the last quarter of 2022. They were recruited by strangers on Facebook and promised customer service jobs with a salary between P40,000 and P60,000, according to the bureau.
“Like other cases of human trafficking in the Southeast Asia region, the victims were transported to Mae Sot City…forced to work in online love scams and crypto rings,” BI chief Norman Tansingco said in a statement.
The victims, according to the BI, recalled being subjected to physical torture when they couldn’t meet their daily quota.
They were also detained until they could pay a hefty ransom, it added.
READ: Families pay huge ransom for 6 trafficked Filipinos in Myanmar
BI said three other victims left the Philippines for Malaysia also during the last quarter of 2022. They traveled via boats from the ports of Zamboanga and Tawi-Tawi after being promised work as massage therapists in Miri City.
But instead, they were reportedly forced to do sex work in spa parlors offering “extra service.”
Citing accounts of the victims, BI said their only rest days were during their menstrual period.
“Even when they were rescued by Malaysian authorities, the victims alleged that they were forced to clean restrooms at a police station, where they were also verbally abused. They eventually managed to contact the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur, which then assisted them in their repatriation,” BI said.
A recent rise in human trafficking cases in the country has alarmed even lawmakers, who have since launched investigations into reports of Filipinos trafficked to Southeast Asian countries and forced to engage in cryptocurrency scams.
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