Belgian national arrested on suspicion of child trafficking
Four minors, suspected to be victims of child trafficking, were rescued by police and personnel of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) at the Cebu South Bus Terminal yesterday morning.
Police Chief Inspector Jacinto Mandal, Carbon Police Station chief said the minors were accompanied by a Belgian national and their two aunts, aged 18 and 19 years old, who were reportedly on their way to Naga for a “family outing.”
Koen Van Den Broek, 60, was at the bus terminal with a 13-year-old girl and her nine-year-old brother, who are residents of Barangay Canduman in Mandaue City.
With them is another three-year-old girl and her four-year-old brother, who said that they are from Barangay Inayagan, Naga City.
Mandal, in a letter to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), said that IACAT staff Altie Tuason Insong together with PO1 Zosimo Malabosa Jr. and PO1 Jonard de la Cerna rescued the minors.
They approached the foreigner with the minors and asked him if they are relatives.
Mandal said the minors revealed that the foreigner stays with them in their address in Barangay Canduman when he visits the Philippines.
It was also discovered that Van Den Broek is financially helping the family in building their house.
Van Den Broek said he arrived in the Philippines last December 22. But this is not his first time in the Philippines.
Mely (not her real name), the mother of the two minors, went to the Carbon Police Station after she was informed about the incident.
She defended Van Den Broek and said that the foreigner has been helping them in the last eight years.
“I was surprised that this happened. We were just called to come here. It has been his practice that when he visits he Philippines, he asks us where we want to go for a special treat,” she said in Visayan.
Based on a preliminary interview, Mandal said the foreigner has violated Republic Act 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law. Charges are being prepared to be filed against him. The parents are still under investigation.
The minors were turned over to the DSWD for interview and counseling.
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