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1,534 Filipinos, 1,190 foreigners rescued from Las Piñas compound

The number of people rescued from an alleged human trafficking situation in a compound in Las Piñas City is closer to 3,000, authorities said, after an earlier estimate of about 1,000.

According to Mark Salazar’s report on “24 Oras” on Tuesday, acting on a tip the Philippine National Police's National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), Intelligence Group, and Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) raided the compound on Alabang-Zapote Road in the early hours of Tuesday. The site is protected by a complex perimeter fence with barbed wire on top and a high-security outpost at the gate.

Inside was a building that includes the living quarters of the supposedly trafficked individuals, consisting of 1,534 Filipinos and 1,190 from countries including Malaysia, Singapore, China and Vietnam.

An earlier report said that authorities estimated the number of people in the building to be around 1,000.

“Initially a case of human trafficking, like 'yung operation namin sa Clark last May 4. Doon naka-rescue tayo na more than one thousand foreign nationals, allegedly victim ng human trafficking. So itong case natin is somewhat ganoon rin, itong trafficked victims ay ni-rescue din natin from the operations," said Police Captain Michelle Sabino of the PNP-ACG. "As of now, Malaysian, Singapore, Chinese, Vietnamese, so nag-iinterview din ako kung ano ang participation nila rito."

The people were brought down to have their papers examined in order to determine their job in the building.

Before the operation, the police obtained information that an online casino was operating on the premises; computers and social media data were also gathered for the investigation.

“How they were recruited, ‘yung mga nakausap ko, Malaysian, Singapore. Sa Facebook mayroong job posting, so ‘yung job posting na ‘yung nire-recruit sila to work as nag-assist ata sa online gaming. So whether or not kung sa POGO o ano, iniimbesigahan pa. Ang hinahanap is ‘yung mga parang mga traces o evidence na ginamit siya sa love scam, investment or cryptocurrency scam,” Sabino said.

The entire complex is currently locked down as the authorities continue to process information. An interagency team consisting of the PNP; the Department of Justice including the Bureau of Immigration; the Department of Social Welfare and Development; the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Health has been formed. — Sherylin Untalan/BM, GMA Integrated News