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Two minors rescued from human trafficking activity in Quezon City

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, 11 January 2019 12:21 PM

The two female minors who were saved by authorities from being smuggled to Pangasinan to work in a local bar.
The two female minors who were saved by authorities from being smuggled to Pangasinan to work in a local bar.

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Two minors were rescued by members of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) in a botched human trafficking activity in Barangay Batasan Hills on Thursday (January 10).

The suspect has been identified as Manuel Joshua Sanchez, 21, a native of Samar.

He is now facing violations of R.A. 0208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

According to reports, one of the minors’ mother reported to the Batasan Police Station about Sanchez’ plan to bring her daughter to Pangasinan to work in a local bar.

Kasi yung anak ko naki-open sa cellphone tapos nakalimutan niyang i-log out kaya nasundan ko yung conversation hanggang sabi noong bakla, dadalhin sila sa Nueva Vizcaya. Ngayon lang iyong sa Pangasinan kasi iyong nakaraan, hindi natuloy,” said ‘Jo’, the victim’s mother.

(TRANSLATION: My daughter borrowed my cellphone but forgot to log out her [social media account] that’s why I was able to follow their conversation up to the point where the suspect said he was bringing them to Nueva Vizcaya. He recently changed it to Pangasinan as the first plan did not push through.)

According to QCPD Station 6 Deputy Commander Sandie Caparroso, the suspect has an outstanding record when the same complainant reported him in November for pimping her daughter to the suspect’s own father.

Sinabihan natin sila na maaktuhan natin ang ginagawa nilang pangbubugaw nung suspect. Kanina nga ay lumapit ulit sa atin. Ang information sa atin ay nakipag-communicate itong suspect sa biktima through FB messenger at inaalok sila ulit ng trabaho somewhere in Pangasinan,” Caparraso said.

(TRANSLATION: The plan is to catch the suspect in the act of pimping the victims. We received information earlier that suspect reached out to the suspects through FB messenger offering employmeny somewhere in Pangasinan.)

Sanchez was arrested while about to board a taxi together with the two minors allegedly on their way to Pangasinan.

The suspect denied the allegations saying he was just ordered by a certain ‘Liezl’ to fetch the minors and bring them to Pangasinan for potential employment.

Nagulat na lang po noong susunduin po namin sila may bigla na lang po mga pulis. Hindi po ako ang nagrecruit nun. Si Liezel kaibigan po nila pinasundo lang po sa akin,” Sanchez argued.

(TRANSLATION: When we came to pick up the girls, I was surprised to see the police. I was not the one who recruited them. I was asked by Liezel, a friend of the girls, to fetch them.)

Auhtorities added that the suspect was using illegal drugs based on the recent drug test conducted.

The two minors were sent to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for counselling. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Gerry Galicia)

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PH Bureau of Immigration ramps up drive vs human trafficking

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, 20 March 2019 06:10 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration has ramped up its efforts to combat the trafficking of Filipinos, especially of minors, to other countries.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement on Monday (March 18) they have directed immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other international ports in the country to “carefully screen departing Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW)” amid reports that human trafficking syndicates are again recruiting under-aged Filipino women.

Immigration personnel manning booths at the airport were also ordered to strictly screen departing OFWs “to make sure that they are of legal age and are eligible for overseas deployment.”

BI personnel should particularly watch out for passengers who appear to minors or below 23 years old, which is the age requirement for overseas household service workers, Morente said.

The latest measure was enforced after BI officers intercepted a 21-year old Filipina household worker bound for Saudi Arabia last March 13 at the NAIA Terminal 1 before she could board her flight to Riyadh.

The woman has already been turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation and assistance.

Last year, the BI reported that more than a hundred under aged Filipino women, many of them minors, were intercepted at NAIA. All of them had passports with falsified birthdates, although they had valid overseas employment permits, working visas and job contracts.

“This syndicate has stopped deploying under aged women, following last year’s numerous interceptions, as well as arrests by local authorities. However, with this recent interception, it seems that this scheme is making a comeback,” Morente said.

“I implore our kababayans who wish to work abroad, do not fall to these syndicates,” he urged. – Robie de Guzman

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Malacañang takes swipe at critics as PH formally pulls out of ICC

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, 18 March 2019 01:29 PM

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Salvador Panelo | Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday (March 18) dismissed the statements from critics that the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) could lead to impunity and more human rights abuses as “misleading and baseless response”.

The Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC took effect on Sunday (March 17) following the failure of the Supreme Court to issue a ruling on consolidated petitions seeking to stop the pullout.

Gabriela Party-list has warned that the country’s withdrawal could lead to “nastier rights abuses” while the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) believes that impunity will win as a consequence of the withdrawal.

The Amnesty International also said the pullout is a futile attempt to evade international justice.

Malacañang has denounced the statements, accusing these groups of engaging in conspiracy theories.

“It is open for conspiracy theories by the political opposition, the left and the human rights,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo  said.

The Duterte government has repeatedly alleged that these groups are in conspiracy with each other.

“March 17 has passed, the sky has not fallen and the sun still rises in the east, our people desire policies with results rather than noise emanating from groups closely associated with the [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front] and defeated major political party which is presently fighting for political survival and relevance,” Panelo added.

The Philippines’ withdrawal took effect a year after it told the United Nations that it was leaving the permanent war crimes tribunal. The move was prompted by ICC’s move to launch a preliminary examination in 2018 on accusations that President Rodrigo Duterte committed crimes against humanity through his war on drugs.

Duterte cited “outrageous” attacks on his administration and the supposedly illegal attempt to place him under the ICC’s jurisdiction as reasons for the country’s pullout.

Panelo stressed that the government’s war on drugs is anchored on national survival as well as accountability of those who seek to destroy the nation.

He reiterated that extrajudicial killings are not state-sanctioned but rather consequences of turf wars among drug syndicates.

He added that deaths in police operations happen because suspects resist arrest with violence that endangers the lives of police officers.

“There is no culture of impunity under this administration. The country’s criminal justice system continues to be operational and strictly compliant with the constitutional requirement of due process,” Panelo said.

He also urged those who assert that drug-war deaths were state-sponsored to file complaints before appropriate administrative and judicial bodies.

“Failure to undertake this process can only mean that they are engaged in conjectures and politicizing the matter to the advantage of drug personalities and criminals,” he said.

Panelo has earlier reiterated that the Philippines has never been a state party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC.

“The Philippines cannot leave that which has never joined in the first place,” he added. “The Philippines never became a state party to the Rome Statute which created the ICC. As far as we are concerned, this tribunal is non-existent and its actions a futile exercise.”

Despite the withdrawal, the ICC said it will continue the preliminary examination it launched in February 2018.

But Panelo said that “should the ICC proceed with its undertakings relative to the Philippines and violate the provisions of the instrument which created it in the process, it can only mean that it is bent on interfering with the sovereignty of our republic.”

Meanwhile, former Presidential Spokesman, Harry Roque, an expert on international law, admitted to being “very sad” over the country’s decision to pull out from the international court.

He stressed, however, that the Administration made the right decision to withdraw, underscoring that “the ICC was never intended to be a court of first resort.”

Roque stated that at the time when the Philippines joined the Rome Statute of the ICC, it was “under the principle of complementarity,” which means, there is no overlapping in jurisdictions between the two parties.

Roque also reiterated that the Philippine local courts are still functioning and that, “it is only when local courts are unable and unwilling to invest the most horrendous crimes committed against international community that the ICC should take and exercise jurisdiction.”

The Philippines is the second country to quit the ICC next to Burundi in 2017. Gambia and South Africa also withdrew their membership from the Hague-based body but later reversed its decisions.

ICC’s 123rd member

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ neighboring country, Malaysia, took a different path by joining the ICC as its 123rd member.

Malaysia said its move to join the Hague-based body “reflects its commitment to combating international crimes for global peace and security.”

The ICC, for its part, said it was inspired to see Malaysia joining the ICC, adding that its accession to the Rome Statute was a veritable act of recognition of the continuing value of the Rome Statute and the ICC. – Robie de Guzman

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PHL, Viet Nam ink 5-year action plan for stronger, deeper partnership

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, 11 March 2019 03:25 PM

(L-R) Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and
Viet Nam Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh | Photo credit: DFA

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and Viet Nam, on Wednesday, adopted a new five-year action plan on specific commitments that the two nations will undertake to guarantee a bolstered cooperation on various areas of concern.

The five-year Plan of Action 2019 to 2024, signed between Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. of the Philippines and Viet Nam Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, is a result of the series of inter-agency consultations and thorough bilateral negotiations between the two nations in the past few years.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a press briefing meeting that the plan specifically maps out commitments that the two countries “will undertake jointly in the political, security, economic, and cultural spheres, as well as in other various areas.”

It is expected to enhance bilateral relations, particularly on economy, and agreed to continuously increase the current $4.72 billion trade turnover with a target of 20 percent bilateral trade turnover annual growth in the succeeding years.

In the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Pham noted that the political and diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Viet Nam “have grown positively with a higher level of trust, as evident in the substance and outcomes of the frequent visits and contacts between our high-level leaders.”

Pham added that his country is ready for the further stepping up of the already thriving aspect on economic cooperation with the Philippines.

“Both our countries are among the fastest growing economies in Asia, and that is conducive to further promoting our trade and investment relations in the years ahead,” he said. 

The 9th meeting of the Philippines-Vietnam Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) which also marked the 45 years of Manila-Hanoi bilateral relations was held at Diamond Hotel, in Manila.

 Secretary Locsin also said, “as two of ASEAN’s most dynamic economies, and as two countries faced with similar challenges, we draw lessons not only from our gains and accomplishments but also from lessons in areas where we might have fallen short.”

Pham said, “During the discussion, we noted with delight that the political and diplomatic relations between two countries have grown positively with a higher level of trust, that was evident in the substance and outcomes of the frequent visits and contacts between our high-level leaders.”

Locsin added that the Philippines looks forward to Viet Nam’s hosting of the 10th Meeting of the JCBC in 2021.  – Maris Federez

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