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Barangay officials urged to help fight human trafficking

First Posted 07:15:00 11/06/2010

A NON-GOVERNMENT organization yesterday urged barangay officials to closely monitor the recruitment of women in their respective localities to ensure they would not be victimized by illegal recruiters.

Andrey Sawchenko, field office director of the International Justice Mission (IJM), said this would help prevent the illegal trafficking of persons.

?We hope incidents of trafficking will be reduced,? Sawchenko told .

Since Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 was implemented, IJM noted 24 convictions of recruiters accused of human trafficking.

Of the 24, three convictions involved illegal recruiters from Cebu.

Sawchenko said they have to intensify their campaign against human trafficking in coordination with local government units.

He cited the Cebu City government's efforts to ensure that all employees of entertainment bars should only be adults.

Last week, a woman recruiter was found guilty of human trafficking. She was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of P5 million.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Soliver Peras of Branch 10 also ordered the accused to pay P500,000 in exemplary and moral damages to each of the five female victims.

The victims claimed they were recruited four years ago by the woman to work as singers in Malaysia but ended up working as bar girls. They were sexually exploited by customers in pub houses in Malaysia. They later managed to escape and return to the Philippines.

The IJM actively supported the five victims in the case.

To reduce the incidence of sex trafficking and thel sexual exploitation of children, the IJM launched in March 2007 a project known as Project Lantern in Metro Cebu with the goal of demonstrating the effectiveness of a law enforcement-based strategy against human trafficking.

To fulfill its goal, IJM joined forces with the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Department of Justice, and local government units.

Prosecutors led by Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane intensified their campaign against illegal trafficking.

The DOJ recently created the Local Inter-Agency Task Forces Against Trafficking in Persons (LIATFAT).

Gubalane will lead the Regional Anti-Trafficking Task Force in Central Visayas, which will monitor airports, seaports and land terminals for any human trafficking activity.

/ADOR VINCENT S. MAYOL


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