AN OFFICIAL of the Inter-agency Council Against Human Trafficking (Iacat) Davao Region said Wednesday they have yet to receive reports of human trafficking from areas affected by Typhoon Pablo.
Regional prosecutor Antonio Arellano, chair of Iacat, said they have addressed the high possibility of human trafficking incident in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces, two of the most inflicted areas, after the devastation.
He said he wrote a letter addressed to Chief Superintendent Jaime H. Morente, director of the Police Regional Office (PRO), through its task force leader for human trafficking Supt. Federico Dulay, relaying the need for "enhanced preventive measures" against human trafficking.
"With the concrete destruction brought by the typhoon, residents will be primarily dependent with the LGU (local government unit). In these trying times, they are very vulnerable to exploitation and abuse," he said in the same letter.
He said they can detect and address this problem, but the dilemma is now on the means of transportation.
"The danger is more on the possibility that they will be brought out of the region to other areas by land and even by air. And you cannot stop this people as far as domestic travel is concerned because there is a freedom to travel as far as our law is concerned," Arellano told Sun.Star Davao.
He said they are coordinating with the counterparts in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) and Zamboanga Peninsula, especially in Zamboanga and Sulu.
"We also send our task force in evacuation centers where they conduct lectures to the victims informing them of the dangers of the possibilities of human trafficking and its nature," he said.
The lectures have been conducted in Compostela Valley, particularly in New Bataan.
Bernardo Mondragon, executive director of Child Alert, earlier said victims of Typhoon Pablo will become more vulnerable to human trafficking as demand for food increases in the areas.
He said traffickers find disaster areas perfect for human trafficking due to loss of income and livelihood of the residents.
"That's always the case during calamity because the traffickers think the place itself provides supply for trafficking," Mondragon said.
Mondragon said victims are vulnerable since their initial priority is to find ways to have food, clothing, shelter and other basic needs for the family. Worse, because vast farmlands were destroyed, this means thousands are not only homeless but have also lost their source of livelihood.