Saturday, May 17, 2008

Filipina Recognized for Efforts to Combat Trafficking

Ma. Cecilia “Cecil” Flores-Oebanda, second to the right

From the Inquirer:

For her efforts to battle human trafficking, the head of a Filipino non-government organization became the first Asian to be recognized as a “social entrepreneurs” and awarded a three-year, $1-million grant by a US-based foundation.

Ma. Cecilia “Cecil” Flores-Oebanda, president of the Visayan Forum Foundation, received her award from the Skoll Foundation last March 27 at the University of Oxford in England.

Oebanda was cited by the Skoll Foundation as “the first Asian awardee, who will join the growing global network of Skoll social entrepreneurs, now numbering 59, who have created innovative, proven solutions for tackling the world’s most urgent social and economic challenges.”

On Tuesday, Oebanda was honored at a gathering at the Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza organized by the Asia Foundation, whose deputy country representative, Ky Johnson, and managing program officer, Maribel Buenaobra, nominated her for the Skoll award.

“The Asia Foundation nominated Cecil Flores-Oebanda for this honor because of her valuable contribution to addressing gender-based violence, particularly human trafficking, in the Philippines,” Buenaobra said.

In her acknowledgment, Oebanda said she hoped to witness the day when human trafficking, which she called “a modern-day form of slavery,” is eradicated.

“We [Visayan Forum] want to ensure that operations of traffickers will be increasingly difficult and young people, especially women, will be able to find work and explore opportunities without the risk of being abused, exploited, sold and enslaved,” she said.

Oebanda spent four years in jail as a political prisoner during the Marcos dictatorship. She started working with the Visayan Forum when she was released after the 1986 uprising that ousted Ferdinand Marcos.

Read the full article

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