15 Filipino human trafficking victims imprisoned in Malaysia – PH embassy
MANILA, Philippines – Fifteen Filipinas who were duped by illegal recruiters to enter Malaysia illegally were sentenced by a Malaysian court to 6 months imprisonment and fined RM 4,000 (P46,000), the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur said.
Rappler earlier learned about the plight of these Filipinas through the family of Eleonor Baltazar, who was reported as one of the 15 alleged victims of human trafficking.
The family described Baltazar's condition behind bars as "horrible," noting that the Filipina is allegedly suffering from "subhuman treatment" while in prison. According to them, another overseas Filipina worker, who was recently freed from the same prison, told them about Baltazar's ordeal.
Rappler reached out to the Philippine embassy in Malaysia after learning about the situation of Baltazar and the other alleged human trafficking victims.
According to embassy officials in Malaysia, the Filipinas were apparently promised jobs in Dubai by a certain Flordeliza Flores Eborde, whom the group called "Ms Venus." They were instructed to go to Brooke’s Point in Palawan, from where they were transferred via motorboat to Mapun in Tawi-tawi. From there, the group travelled to Sendakan, Malaysia, by boat.
The embassy said that the Sandakan Magistrate Court convicted and sentenced the group on August 17 to “6 months imprisonment from date of arrest.” They will serve an additional 4 months in prison if they do not pay the fine.
The embassy is extending legal assistance to the victims to be able to reduce their prison time, and also confirmed that Baltazar and her group are now in better condition.
Baltazar will serve her sentence until May 19, 2017, but will be qualified for early release from prison on February 10, if she shows good behavior.
Earlier this week, the embassy warned about the increasing occurrence of this modus, wherein Filipinos are brought to Malaysia illegally through Western Mindanao.
The embassy attributes this to the implementation of stricter anti-trafficking measures at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and other airports. This has forced illegal recruitment syndicates to operate through Zamboanga or Tawi-Tawi, where recruits cross over to Sabah, which serves as entry point to Dubai or other countries.
The embassy warns Filipino job seekers against such schemes or "risk apprehension by Sabah authorities for unauthorized entry or fall victim to sex and other traffickers along the way.”
“We have seen all too often these sad cases of job seekers who end in a foreign jail or in the hands of sex traffickers. These are risks not worth taking,” the Philippine embassy said. – Rappler.com