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Type of document: News
Topic: Actions/initiatives/projects
Geographic descriptors: Philippines
Language: English
Source: www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=regions01_sept04_2006
Date of publication: 04 September 2006
Long Abstract: Team ready vs human trafficking

By Ferdinand Fabella

AN interagency council has been activated in Western Visayas to address the growing number of cases of human trafficking in the region, the Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

In a multisectoral consultation, the Foreign Affairs regional consular office and the nongovernment organization Visayan Forum Foundation agreed to activate the Regional Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in the Western Visayas region.

Consular office head Liza Jane Estalilla said only Negros Occidental has organized a multisectoral group concerned with child labor and human trafficking problems and similar offices have yet to be organized in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo and Guimaras.

“We recognize the need for the joint effort of both the government and the NGOs to closely monitor cases, effectively rescue trafficked victims and prosecute the perpetrators in the region,” Estalilla said of their meeting with the foundation and other organizations in Negros Occidental.

Upon the foundation’s request, Estalilla said she has presented the proposal to activate the council to the local Department of Justice and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Through this [council], we will be able to consolidate our efforts against human trafficking,” she said. The justice department regional director will be the council chairman, with the social welfare department as the cochairman.

Estalilla added the local offices of Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Immigration, Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, the police and organizations such the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women and Children also pledged their cooperation.

The newly formed council will meet tomorrow to formally declare its activation, she added.

The council’s establishment is in line with the Anti-Trafficking Act of 2003, which is tasked to enact measures aimed at preventing the trafficking of people.

Western Visayas, particularly Negros Occidental, is one the regions in the Philippines with a rising number of women and children being trafficked for work and sexual exploitation.

Aside from Western Visayas, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Central and Eastern Visayas are also considered to be hotspots, with 127 surveillance and 77 rescue operations conducted recently, said the labor department.

The Philippines was recently removed from the Tier 1 level of the US State Department’s list of countries with human trafficking problems after it complied with the US’ 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

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