Bataan prelate: Prosecute suspects in human trafficking try

MANILA — An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Migrant and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI) urged authorities to arrest and prosecute those behind the alleged human smuggling busted by operatives of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Bataan.

“We call the national and provincial (authorities) not to spare anyone, execute to the letter the law,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos, CBCP-ECMI chairman in an interview on Wednesday.

The Bataan prelate lauded the operations which resulted to the rescue of 139 individuals.

“It is commendable that PCG has rescued these 139 would be victims of cruel and criminal acts of human smuggling. They have been saved from possible inhuman treatment, disgraced and even death,” Santos said.

“But they have to dig deeper-investigate the owner of ship, how the ship (is) able to sail, how the 139 boarded the ship. And prosecute, punish the guilty,” he added.

On Tuesday, PCG and NBI operations rescued 139 individuals from a human smuggling attempt on board a cruise ship bound for Micronesia.

They were saved after authorities boarded the MV Forever Lucky, which was docked in Orion, Bataan. 

Gerald Geralde, head of NBI special task force, said the victims came from different provinces and have no proper visa for Micronesia, carrying only passports.

Some of them said they were promised jobs as massage attendant, housekeeper, food attendant, bartender, tattoo artist and lechon (roast pig) maker, among others, as soon as the boat docks in Micronesia.

Lt. Carlos Victor Carlos, PCG Bataan commander, said they held the boat for alleged lack of required documents.

He said they also discovered from the cabins the people, who were not supposed to be on the vessel.

Geralde said they will recommend the filing of cases of human trafficking and illegal recruitment against officials of Fahrenheit Company Ltd., the alleged recruiter and owner of the ship, as well as the captain of the vessel.

Fahrenheit has an office at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Ferdinand Patinio and Ernie Esconde/