Trafficked women, most of whom are students in dire financial needs, are on the rise in Baguio City, an international non-government group had reported to Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong. The mayor said the international (NGO) used to work with him when he was with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). The group, said Magalong, conducted two-day ground interviews in the city recently and found out “a high prevalence of trafficking in persons in the city, most of them students and the youth.”

Without citing exact figures though, Magalong has tasked the inspectorate team of the Baguio City police with the
Baguio City Permits and Licensing Division to check on bars and similar entertainment establishments including their workers without the necessary permits and submit a monthly report. June last year, the National Bureau of InvestigationCordillera agents aided by antitrafficking NGO Exodus RoadPhilippines raided a Baguio brothel masquerading as a massage parlor along lower Bokawkan Road, no more than 100 meters from a police station rescuing 14 women.

Earlier January in 2023, eleven women were rescued from two massage parlors along Upper Magsaysay Avenue, only around 30 meters from another police station. NBI-CAR Special Investigator Von Francis Soriano said trafficking in persons cases had prospered against registered owners of the brothels. One owner, even then a Barangay Kagawad (barangay council), had also gone into hiding. Republic Act No. 9208, known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, institutes policies to eliminate trafficking in persons especially women and children against exploitation and prostitution.

Assistant Prosecutor Ruth Bernabe earlier was quoted confirming, “trafficking in person is prevalent in the city but not being reported,” though thankful the Baguio City government has recently institutionalized a Quick Response Team (QRT) against human trafficking. She hoped more human traffickers will be caught, though feared “perpetrators are also becoming innovative in their ways to lure victims.”

Artemio A. Dumlao/ABN

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