MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES – After two failed attempts earlier this year to rescue teens being trafficked and sold for sex, IJM Manila helped police rescue them and arrest two suspects.
The suspected traffickers did not operate out of a brothel or bar; instead, they would arrange meetings with customers on the street. The suspects are well-connected in Manila, and planning an operation was a challenge. Even though they were selling girls and boys out in the open, the meeting places changed constantly and tracing them was difficult.
IJM worked with police earlier this year to plan two different undercover operations. Both times the suspects simply did not show up at the arranged meeting point. It seemed they had heard about increased crack-downs on traffickers, and they were afraid of getting caught in action. IJM's investigative team persevered despite the serious challenges, determined to rescue the children who were being sold for sex. On August 29, the IJM and police team met again to plan a third attempt. At 11:00 p.m., a small team deployed to meet the suspects.
In the middle of the bogus sale on the quiet street, police officers at last arrested both suspects. Instead of enduring another night of routine abuse, five sex trafficking survivors were rescued—including 14- and 15-year-old boys and a 17-year-old girl. The survivors received crisis counseling from IJM social workers who were on the scene to provide critical support. IJM social workers explained to the survivors that they had done nothing wrong and the police were there to help set them free. Now the survivors are safe and staying in aftercare homes where they will get the specialized care they need to rebuild lives of strength and stability.