March 3, 2024

The city government’s Local Committee on Anti-Trafficking and Violence Against Women and Children (LCAC-VAWC) approved a resolution for the creation of a quick response team (QRT) that will carry out immediate rescue operations and social interventions to victims of human trafficking.

Establishment of the QRT Against Human Trafficking was recommended by the City Social Welfare and Development Office being the secretariat of the LCAC-VAWC after confirming an increasing number of trafficking in persons in the city.

CSWDO Social Welfare Officer II Coralie Dulnuan reported 30 individuals, mostly women, were rescued from anti-human trafficking operations conducted during the first semester of the year.

“There were two minors among those rescued and the majority of the victims were forced to work in bars or night establishments in the city,” Dulnuan said.  

While court cases have been filed against alleged perpetrators of human trafficking, the lack of proper documentation was identified as a challenge, thus the need to establish a QRT to be led by the City Prosecutor’s Office to develop a standard operating procedure.

Mandatory members of the QRT are law enforcement agencies such as Baguio City Police Office, the regional offices of the National Bureau of Investigation together with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, with the CSWDO for social intervention and the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center to provide psychological intervention as well as medico legal services to victims.

Other members of the QRT are the City Health Services Office, the Business Permits and Licensing Division of the City Mayor’s Office, and the Child and Family Services Office.

While the city regularly conducts inspections of night establishments, the LCAC-VAW said operation of bars without permits remains a challenge.

In the recent joint monitoring of the council, Dulnuan said there were 79 employees without work permits and 11 bars without business permits.

Establishments found operating without permits and committing other violations to city ordinances such as Smoke-free Baguio and Silent Night were issued notices. – Jessa Mardy . Samidan