By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Around 17 minors were rescued after members of the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) raided a suspected factory producing fake cigarettes in Barangay Bata, Bacolod City, yesterday evening.
Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) acting director, Police Senior Superintendent Jack Wanky, said they raided the suspected compound, owned by a certain “Jimmy,” a Chinese businessman.
According to Wanky, the said compound was used to repack fake cigarettes.
Upon raiding the said establishment, Wanky said 17 minors, aged between 12 and 17 years old, all of whom were from Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, were rescued.
The Mindanao city has been under siege by terrorists over the past three months.
Wanky believes the rescued minors were persuaded and tricked by recruiters to work in an electronics factory here in Bacolod City.
The victims stated they wished to return home to Marawi City, but were denied by Jimmy, who claimed they had not yet earned enough to cover the transportation costs of coming to Bacolod City.
Cops recovered 200 big boxes of fake cigarettes, fake cigarette seals, along with 500 to 600 grams of suspected marijuana.
Wanky noted, authorities raided another property, also believed to be owned by Jimmy, but as of press time authorities are still conducting an inventory of the items.
The 17 rescued minors were handed over to the city’s social welfare office./WDJ