QUEZON City, Dec. 12, 2014—In line with International Day Against Human Trafficking the world celebrates today, an inter-church group calls on the Philippine government to address the root causes of human trafficking in the country by ensuring more jobs are made available to Filipinos.
In a released statement, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) says the problem is an offshoot of forced migration brought about by worsening poverty and massive unemployment.
“As Filipinos seek for a better life abroad or in other regions within the country, they become vulnerable to being trafficked and subjugated to exploitative conditions,” it explains.
“We express our lamentation and concern about the continuing cases of human trafficking in the country and the rest of the world”, shares NCCP general secretary Fr. Rex Reyes, asserting that all forms of human trafficking in the country should be dealt with.
The group regrets that the fight against modern slavery focuses largely on sexual trafficking, when there are many instances of labor trafficking that should demand equal attention.
NCCP, however, points out that those trafficked into prostitution are often “provincianas” duped into thinking they are being offered to work as housemaids, waitresses, shop assistants, and the like, only to find themselves trapped in prostitution dens.
The priest blames the crisis in the Eastern Visayas, especially following typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan), for the many cases of young women seeking work outside their home provinces who end up as “prostitutes” elsewhere.
According to him, human trafficking is a serious issue that thrives on corruption, encouraged no less than by the government’s labor export policies.
Reyes states people are made vulnerable because of their government’s inability to create sustained employment growth.
He stresses those in power must do their best to generate jobs in the country, not promote jobs abroad, junk policies that perpetuate migration such as the Labor Export Policy, and prosecute elements involved in human trafficking.
Moreover, Reyes appeals to NCCP member-churches to:
- Engage in lobbying through international and national networks to ensure that all forms of human trafficking are addressed by the government and their judicial system
- To become places of sanctuaries for victims of human trafficking
- Take an active role in educating local congregation and their local communities on the reality of human trafficking in its many diverse forms;
- Provide forums and venues so that the voice and stories of victims of trafficking may be heard and their hidden oppression revealed
“Our vision for a life abundant for all comes with our hope that people are no longer vulnerable to human trafficking because they can develop in their country of birth, enjoying decent jobs without searching for work that are ‘dirty, dangerous, and demeaning’ and not being vulnerable to the predatory activities of human traffickers,” the priest adds. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)