COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: The long arm of the law finally ended the nine-year pursuit against an alleged illegal recruiter in Zamboanga City when agents of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the police arrested her while attempting to leave the country via the Port of Zamboanga.
Bless Grace Hernandez-Ardona has been wanted in connection with several cases of illegal recruitment and estafa, based on the arrest warrant dated December 19, 2007 issued by Judge Jose Mendoza of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 55.
She was arrested before boarding a ship bound for Sandakan, Malaysia with several women she reportedly recruited to work as club entertainers there.
Authorities are mulling human trafficking charges against Hernandez-Ardona for allegedly attempting to smuggle the women to Malaysia when arrested on Thursday.
Estafa, under the Revised Penal Code, is punishable by imprisonment to a maximum of 13 years, while illegal recruitment metes not less than 12 years up to lifetime imprisonment, if three or more victims are involved.
However, Hernandez-Ardona could face lifetime imprisonment if found guilty of human trafficking, which is non-bailable.
Hernandez-Ardona remains in the custody of the Zamboanga City police before her transfer to Manila where she is facing charges.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL