Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Philippine Law Enforcement Official Says Schools Should Warn Students of Human Trafficking

From the Inquirer:

Manila, Philippines- If this National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) chief agent had his way, the problem of human trafficking and how not to be caught in the traffickers’ snares would be discussed among schoolchildren.

"Law enforcers should go to primary and secondary schools to educate kids, especially young girls, on human trafficking," said Ferdinand Lavin, chief of the National Bureau of Investigation’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division. “The campaign should be focused on grades five to high school because these minors are often the target of syndicates," he added in a recent informal chat with reporters.

Lavin said the campaign should be mounted with the help of Department of Education officials. "We should strengthen the preventive aspect, perhaps by information dissemination," he said. "IACAT (Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking) should also map out where the victims came from and focus on info dissemination in that particular area."

Lavin said he has long pushed for an information dissemination campaign, even taking up his idea with IACAT officials, "we already made this appeal to the IACAT but we were told that there was no funding. That’s the problem."

Read the full article

*IACAT is the conglomeration of government agencies and non-governmental organizations that work together to combat trafficking. As the NBI officer mentions, however, IACAT works under extremely limited resources:

1) They have no full-time staff, everyone involved has a regular job on top of their IACAT duties.

2) They are given no funding by the Philippines government. The limited funds that IACAT does receive are from international sources.

Is it any surprise then that a legitimate strategy to prevent trafficking would not be pursued? Is there any question, from the example of IACAT, that a lack of political will exists in the Philippine government to truly commit resources and manpower to address the issue of modern day slavery?

I'm happy that Chief Lavin was able to present his neglected idea to a public audience, but now resources must be allotted for his efforts and this publicity to make any difference.

Will the real Philippine government please stand up?

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