MANILA, Sept. 6, 2013—-Church leaders banded together to push for a crackdown on human trafficking in the country, a trade that even victimized aboriginal girls and women.

Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and other Christian churches on Thursday joined forces to fight the problem as well as help the government address its “interlocking” causes with an “integrated response.”

The Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking aims to coordinate existing programs and the sharing of resources to intensify the campaign particularly in the grassroots level.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo who chairs the CBCP’s National for Secretariat for Social Action said there is a need to drum up awareness against the illegal activity.

“The religious leaders can really help a lot in educating our people and raising their awareness about this problem,” Pabillo said.

“Our country now is being burned by this issue which is not that common to the public. It will bring down our morality if we will still remain uneducated on the issue and will not find a solution to it,” he said.

According to Bishop Efraim Tendero of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, the coming together of different churches hope to boost the existing fight against such “crime”.

“We can be a strong force that can help the government and other organizations to finally put an end to this problem,” Tendero said.

The interfaith group also seeks to strengthen human trafficking rehabilitation programs and bring hope to the victims.

“There are many groups who are doing this already so we just need to coordinate all these efforts including the prosecution of human traffickers,” Pabillo said.

He also claimed that up 300,000 Filipinos, mostly women and children, have been victims of human trafficking in the country.

Tendero said that most of the victims are often from the marginalized sectors that even include tribal children and women.

Human rights agency International Justice Mission (IJM) said that human trafficking is a “lucrative business” that is why “lure of this kind of enterprise is quiet strong” across the world.

“This is a commodity that can be sold for profit and can be sold repeatedly. The profit margin can be quiet strikingly high,” said IJM national director Andrey Sawchenko.

According to the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report, human trafficking in the Philippines is caused by “endemic poverty, a high unemployment rate, a cultural propensity toward migration, a weak rule-of-law environment, and sex tourism.” (CBCPNews)