Guzman was quoted as saying that the rescue operation was planned and conducted as soon as the Naval Intelligence Service Group (NISG) received information about the illegal human trafficking. The search and rescue team found the victims near the Pilas Island, located in the Sulu Sea. The naval sources claimed that no force was used during the mission, which was conducted on June 4.
The trafficking victims were mostly young males, who failed to produce any proof of a work permit or any other type of Malaysian visa. Most of them hailed from the municipality of Sindangan, in the Zamboanga del Norte province. The Navy said that so far they haven’t identified the person who recruited them, as the detained victims are not co-operating with the investigations. However, according to the Navy, the labourers were most probably recruited to work on construction sites and oil palm plantations in Malaysia.
The navy informed the press that after completing the formalities, they transferred all the trafficking victims to a facility maintained by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), located in the Zamboanga City. Illegal immigrants are expected to number around 2 million in Malaysia, and a significant part of them are Filipinos.
Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay meanwhile congratulated the naval servicemen who took part in the successful operation. He also praised the Philippine Army and the Air Force for assisting the Navy in the operation. He said that 19 of the crewmembers have been arrested from the vessel, ML Kadzrina, which has been taken to the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) headquarters in Zamboanga city.