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Pinoy Abroad

DFA: 12 more Filipino trafficking victims in Myanmar seek rescue

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said at least 12 more Filipino human trafficking victims in Myanmar had asked to be rescued.

The DFA earlier repatriated eight Filipino human trafficking victims from Myanmar, four of whom were made to work as online scammers in cryptocurrency farms.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said they estimated that around 50 or 60 Filipinos were being made to work as online scammers in cryptocurrency farms.

“We expect there are many as 50 or 60, and they are not in one farm. Iba't ibang compound yan. However, hindi lahat nagpaparinig na gustong umuwi. Right now, we have maybe about a dozen or less than a dozen, in fact mayroon akong mga bagong nagme-message sa akin tungkol dito,” De Vega said on Super Radyo dzBB.

(We expect there are 50 or 60 Filipinos, and they are not on one farm. They are in different compounds. However, not everyone was asking to be repatriated. Right now, we have maybe about a dozen or less than a dozen. I'm receiving a lot of new messages about this.)

“Hindi sila ang [humihingi] ng saklolo rito kung hindi mga kamaganak nila kasi minsan wala silang cellphone. Kung ganoon po, we’d like to call on yung mga kamaganak ng mga Pilipino na maaring makipagugnayan, maganda yung Facebook gamitin ninyo yung Facebook page,  OFW Help,” he added.

(They are not the ones who are asking for help but their relatives because sometimes they don't have cellphones. If that's the case, we'd like to call on the relatives of Filipinos who can ask for help through our Facebook page: OFW Help.)

Among the recent Myanmar repatriates were four Filipinos who were taken to Myanmar using an unauthorized route.

The Filipinos said they were recruited to act as tourists in Thailand and then illegally brought to Myanmar to work as online scammers.

The victims said they were abused and threatened if they refused to follow orders.

De Vega reiterated that there was an Alert Level 4 on Myanmar.

“In other words, pinapayuhan natin lahat ng Pilipino huwag pumunta ng Myanmar at yung nandoon umuwi na,” he said.

(In other words, we advise all Filipinos not to go to Myanmar and those who are there should go home.)

“In other words, hindi talaga lugar itong pangturista. Habang pinapasalamatan natin yung mga authorities na nandoon eh hindi natin sinasabi, 'Okay pumunta ng Myanmar ngayon,' kasi magulo,” he added.

(In other words, it's not a place for tourists. While we are grateful to the authorities there, we are not saying it is okay to go to Myanmar now because it can get messy.)

Alert Level 4 - the highest crisis alert imposed by the Philippines on countries posing security risks for Filipinos - was raised in Myanmar on May 6, 2021 due to the escalation of violence and worsening armed conflict.

Since February 2021, the Philippine government has repatriated a total of 701 Filipinos from Myanmar - 60% of the total number of overseas Filipinos in the country.

The DFA earlier said Filipinos who are still in Myanmar are advised to restrict non-essential movements, avoid public places, and prepare for evacuation. — DVM, GMA Integrated News