About 20 individuals, including six minors were rescued along Manila Bay on Tuesday, June 21, amid reports of human and drug trafficking in the area, according to government authorities.
Quoted on radio, Lindsay Javier, Rescue District Five Team leader, said the 20 were from Cavite and Pasay City. Of the six minors, five were girls and one boy.
Javier said Manila police, the city’s social welfare department, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) coordinated in the rescue efforts as part of the government’s “reach out operation” to informal settlers living in boats by the bay.
Javier said the Manila City government has received reports that minors were being pimped to yachts anchored nearby while some of the residents were involved in the selling of illegal drugs.
Javier did not identify the people on these yachts.
Javier said that living in boats were not safe for the children.
“Ilang beses na natin silang tinulungan, yung iba mga client na natin yan, yang mga bangka ginawa na nilang bahay, pati mga bata, may mga bata tayong nakuha, yung natutulog, which is hindi safe para sa kanila,” said Javier.
(We have helped them several times, some of them have become our clients. They have converted the boats into their homes where these children, some of who were sleeping, were rescued.)
There were others who jumped into the sea to escape authorities but were later caught by the coast guard, according to the report.
The families will be turned over to Manila Reception and Action Center (MRAC) while Veterinary Special Force will take care of their pet dogs.
Reach out operations are part of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) continuous efforts to provide homeless families with shelter under the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer Program for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF).
In 2015, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo accused DSWD of hiding street children from the heads of state who attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman denied the allegation, insisting that the operation was part of the department’s poverty alleviation program. Chrisheil Acal