Information is key in fight against human trafficking

QUEZON CITY—Ignorance, and not poverty, is the main reason why people fall prey to human trafficking syndicates.

Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) executive director Mary Grace Tirona made this observation during the Communications News Exchange Forum held at the Philippine Information Agency last week.

Thus, the CFO has embarked on information and advocacy activities addressed to prospective Filipino migrants and overseas Filipino workers, Tirona said.

One of this is the community education program that engages communities in dialogues and discussions on the issue of human trafficking, she said, adding these are conducted in Metro Manila and in the provinces.

The country was placed under Tier 2 watch list by the US State Department in its 2010 Trafficking Report. This means the country is identified as a source and as a destination and transit point for trafficked men, women and children for sex trade and forced labor.

Community education program seeks to assist prospective migrants in making informed decisions on  working or migrating abroad, as well as generate community involvement on migration concerns, the CFO said.

The program also aims to raise public awareness on various issues concerning migration, intermarriages and existing government policies and programs directed against illegal recruitment, documentation fraud and trafficking in persons, among others.

Tirona said an informed citizenry can help in combating the problem of human trafficking.

Apart from dialogues, the CFO also set up the 1343 Action line against human trafficking last March.

The action line operates 24/7 to receive inquiries, reports and complaints related to human trafficking.

Tirona urged victims of human trafficking, and the public who may have knowledge of such illegal activity to make use of this hotline.

The hotline has received around 2,800 calls, Tirona said. Of these, the agency was able to refer 24 active cases to various agencies for resolution and action.

Tirona said the “porous” nature of the country’s borders—with several entry and exit points—makes it difficult for authorities to detect human trafficking activities and arrest perpetrators.

The enormity of the problem has prompted the government to create the Inter-Agency Council Against Human Trafficking to combat this trans-boundary crime.

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