Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trafficking Challenges in the Philippines

The Manila skyline

Here's an interesting article that touches on the role of parents in recruitment, the hesitation of trafficking victims to pursue legal cases and the initial aversion that many victims have of NGO workers upon being rescued.

From the Sun Star:

PHILIPPINES- Sheila, Valerie and Bridget (not their real names), who hailed from poor families here, have set their sights to as far as Manila, Brunei, and Japan for employment to alleviate the plight of their respective families. However, instead of working as domestic helpers, they ended up as prostitutes.

"They have been promised heaven, but hell greeted them," Rebecca Magante, secretariat head of the Local Inter-Agency Task Force Against Trafficking in Person (LIATFAT), stressed how the three became victims of human trafficking.

General Santos is not only considered as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines but has also been considered a "hotspot" because of the proliferation of bars and transit houses.
This is according to the Visayan Forum Foundation, a non-government organization that seeks to help curb human trafficking incidence in the country. Human trafficking proliferates in the city with the presence of sea and airports, as well as its proximity to neighboring East Asian countries like Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia. This city also serves as gateway for overland transport for the southern and central parts of Mindanao.

On top of its strategic location, human trafficking thrives in this city in what Magante termed as parental consent.
"The sad fact is that parents egged their children to bite the offer of the recruiters in the hope these children would send back money to the family," she said.

From 2003 to 2007, human trafficking violation reared its ugly head in 21 of the city's 26 barangays (villages), 20 of them in Lagao and 13 in Apopong. About 89 victims came outside the city.
Even if the figure is low for the past four years, Magante believed that this is still significant considering it involves violation of individual's rights. "Victims in previous years were children, but for 2005 to 2007, adults also became primary victims. This means that trafficking cuts across all ages," Magante said.

Of the 204 cases of human trafficking from 2003 to 2007, 87 were less than 18 years old and the rest were of legal ages. There were more female victims than males.

Only 11 cases have been filed in local courts, 10 at the barangay level, while 183 have not been filed at all, according to Liatfat data.

Rose Delima, City Social Welfare and Development Office point person for human trafficking, explained that only a few cases have reached the courts due to the lack of interests of the aggrieved parties to go after the suspects.

"After the victims are in the custody of the parents or their relatives, they no longer care to pursue the case. They consider it a hassle as they try to eke a living," Delima said.
In fact, in most cases the task force responded, Delima stressed they are cast as the "villains."

"The victims often thought that we're obstructing their dreams for a better life when we rescued them, but in fact we're just protecting them from the claws of exploitation," Delima explained.

Read the full article

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