Trafficking raps against two women
Charges of trafficking and illegal recruitment were elevated in court against a female recruiter accused of exploiting four women, three of them Cebuanas, at her home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office issued a resolution stating that they found sufficient evidence to charge Bernadette Aballe, also known as Berna Abdullah, in court.
Grace Banzon, Maria Leonora Tura, Juvelyn Yuzon and Sarah Jane Guangco were repatriated from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after escaping from their employer on March 16 last year.
Cebu City prosecutor Rhodna Bacatan said Aballe is accused of violating Republic Act 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012, a non-bailable offense as well as RA 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act.
During an investigation by the the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking Mactan Cebu International Airport Task Force (IACAT-MCIATF), Banzon and Tura recounted that they were neighbors of Aballe in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City.
They said they were recruited to work in Aballe’s mini-mart in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia through Facebook and were offered a monthly salary of Malaysian ringgit 1,200 (P13,200) and 1,400 (P15,400) respectively.
They were also assured of free board, lodging, transportation allowance and a day off on Sunday.
Aballe also promised to process their working permits since they will travel as tourists.
Banzon and Tura went to Malaysia on January 16, 2015 and met Guangco and Yuzon at Aballe’s mini-mart.
They said Guangco and Yuzon told them that they worked as entertainers in Singapore when Aballe recruited them.
Guangco and Yuzon also told them of the ordeal they experienced there.
When Banzon and Tura confronted Aballe about their working permits, Aballe allegedly confiscated their passports.
They claimed that Aballe and her Malaysian husband forced them to work overtime without pay and deducted their salaries for any lost merchandise.
The four women managed to escape from their employers when Banzon emailed her husband to seek help from her aunt, Vice Governor Agnes Magpale.
The Philippine Embassy in Malaysia was informed of their plight. They were given fare money to go home.
In a related development, a 21-year-old woman and a Singaporean are also facing charges of trafficking at the Regional Trial Court Branch 58 for allegedly trying to transport a minor for prostitution.
Hanna Dhel Baliguat was cuffed in her hospital bed at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) days after she and 58-year-old Singaporean Tan Lai Huat were apprehended via citizen’s arrest at the Cebu South Bus Terminal.
An officer of the Department of Justice’s Inter-Agency Council Against Human Trafficking (IACAT) who enforced the citizen’s arrest said Baliguat was with three girls, one of them a minor and two Singaporeans at the terminal last June 2.
The officer sought help from police and they brought Baliguat and the Singaporeans to the nearest police precinct.
The girls were turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
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