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Drive vs illegal human trade strengthened

Published August 22, 2008 4:12am

Filtered By: News

MANLA, Philippines - An intensified campaign against human tra帊icking was launched early this week by a nongovernmental organization with the support of the United States embassy.

Human tra帊icking refers to the illegal trade of humans, mostly children and women, and forcing them to work either as sex slaves or child laborers.

With nearly 2.3 million forced into "modern slavery" annually, human tra帊icking has become the third largest illegal cross-border crime, behind drug tra帊icking and illegal arms trade.

The campaign launch was led by the Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc. (VFFI).

The Philippines is considered as a source, transit and destination country for human tra帊icking. According to the US State Department, the victims are brought to Cote d’ Ivoire, Japan, Hong Kong and Malaysia, among others. The victims number hundreds of thousands.

The Philippines has been put on the second tier of the US State Department’s Tra帊icking in Persons Report.

The classification meant the country is complying only with the minimum standards set by the US on the protection and prevention of human tra帊icking.

The minimum standard includes imposing punishment to deter tra帊icking and sustained e帊orts by the government to eliminate tra帊icking.

In response to improving the anti-human tra帊icking campaign record, the Philippines enacted into law Republic Act 9208 also known as the Anti-tra帊icking of Persons Act 2003. There has so far been 11 convictions on tra帊icking.

A further downgrade to the third tier will result in the loss of non-humanitarian, non-trade assistance from the US such as development programs and educational exchange programs.

"Human tra帊icking is a global problem," US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie A. Kenney said at the launch. "It is modern-day slavery and victims rarely have a voice."

Cecil Flores-Oebanda, VFFI president and executive director, noted a "massive exploitation of safe migration."

The VFFI works with other sectors to provide halfway houses for tra帊icking victims. The Philippine Ports Authority is building halfway houses in ports where rescued victims are hosted until they can fully reintegrate into society.

According to the International Labor O帊ice, victims oᰋen cope with reintegration problems since their families expected them to provide money.

In the same event, Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor of the Inter-Agency Council Against Tra帊icking said that the campaign

against human tra帊icking had no budget.

Despite the predicament, Ombudsman Merceditas N. Gutierrez vowed that the O帊ice of the Ombudsman would continue to probe and prosecute any public o帊icials found guilty of colluding with tra帊ickers.

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