Vice-mayor arrested, faces human trafficking raps

From The Manilla Times:

SULU: Philippine authorities have arrested a town vice-mayor and his aide who were both linked to human trafficking charges in Mindanao.

Limtajar Bandahala Hassan, deputy mayor of Lugus town, was arrested in an entrapment operation carried out by undercover police and military agents at Paseo del Mar park in Zamboanga City over the weekend.

Hassan is being accused of transporting illegal Filipino workers to the remote island of Taganak in Tawi-Tawi before they are transported to Malaysia’s oil-rich state of Sabah.

Two agents, one from the local police force and the army, and a civilian informant who are members of a government anti-human trafficking task force, set up the trap and paid P18,000 in marked money to the politician in exchange for their boat trip to Taganak.

Police also seized a .45-caliber pistol from the politician, who identified himself as Limtazar Baladji, but government records showed his real name as Limtajar Bandahala Hassan.

Hassan has denied all the accusations against him and said he merely owns a passenger boat that plies from Zamboanga City to Taganak Island.

“I was fixing the boat’s generator when a friend approached and told me that there were people who wanted to go to Taganak. I just told him to purchase the tickets from us, so I went out with my purser to collect the payments. I am really innocent on all these charges,” he told reporters from inside his jail in Zamboanga City.

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