CEBU, THE PHILIPPINES – Earlier this week, IJM helped police rescue a 16-year-old girl and two 13- and 14-year old boys who were being sold for sex on Cebu streets. All of them are now safe at a temporary shelter where they will receive urgent care and begin to process what happened to them.
IJM worked with the Mandaue City Police to rescue the children and arrest the suspected traffickers. Andrey Sawchenko, IJM National Director of the Philippines, commended the well-planned operation that brought freedom to these innocent children. “This operation is evidence that the police in Mandaue City have stepped up their anti-trafficking efforts,” Andrey said, adding that “the professionalism of the operation signals that the Philippine National Police Office in Mandaue City is serious about protecting its vulnerable children from being trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.”
IJM has worked with this police office in the past to develop and conduct anti-trafficking operations. Some of the officers have also participated in IJM’s training program on anti-trafficking investigations and techniques for police.
The police who led the rescue operation on February 18, 2013, met the alleged traffickers in a dark parking lot for a bogus sale. As soon as the marked money exchanged hands – confirming the suspects’ intention to sell the children for sex – police surrounded the area and arrested the three suspects. That dark meeting place became the starting point of freedom.
IJM social workers have remained beside the children over the last few days and are actively coordinating a long-term aftercare plan for each boy and girl. The trafficking survivors will receive trauma-focused counseling and start to rebuild their young lives.