A total of 28 minors and 10 others believed to be victims of human trafficking were rescued yesterday in Barangay Bool, this city during a raid conducted by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and personnel from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
According to Atty. Arcelito Albao, NBI Bohol executive officer, the purported human trafficking victims were living in a well-appointed house which operated as an orphanage without proper documents from the institutionâ€™s administrators, Matthew Dwinells and wife Dalisay who are both US citizens.
Albao told theÂ ChronicleÂ that the rescued children could have been used by the Dwinells couple to raise money for personal gain from donors across the globe through their orphanage, Street Kids Philippine Mission.
The NBIÂ revealed that most of the minors were from Leyte and Cebu and transported to Bohol without proper documents including permission from parents or families which could be considered as human trafficking.
With the findings, a human trafficking case will be filed against the Dwinells who are currently held at the detention facility of the NBI, said Albao.
Street Kids Philippine Mission has been operating for six years and was reportedly based inÂ another house located in a Barangay Tinago in Dauis for several years.
Albao noted that the Dwinells couple were able to present a permit from the local government unit of Dauis but it expired on December 31, 2015.
Prior to the joint operation, the DSWD received several complaints from concerned citizens against the alleged unauthorized activities of the orphanage, said Cerena Cia, an officer of the department.
However, the Dwinells denied the accusations. Dalisay admitted to not having proper documents but maintained that the process for the legalization of the orphanageâ€™s operations is ongoing.
She also refuted human trafficking allegations as she noted that they have not been shipping away orphans in exchange for money.
On the contrary, Dalisay pointed out that the orphanage raised money to fund the education of the children and provide them shelter.
The children were free to leave the center as they pleased and with their families’ consent, she added.
Meanwhile, the rescued orphans were turned over to the DSWD. The males were taken to Arms of Love, a foster home in Cortes, while the females were put under the custody of the Bohol Crisis Intervention Center.
Several children who were interviewed by theÂ ChronicleÂ right after the raid shared that they were notÂ abused by the Dwinells and did not encounter problems during their stay with the couple.
They even said that they were thankful for the Dwinells as they were better off with the couple compared to roaming the streets of Cebu City.Â (with reports from Allen Doydora and Willy Maestrado)
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