Gov’t urged to be pro-active in stopping human trafficking
MANILA, Philippines — At the very least, the government should warn survivors of supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) in Samar and Leyte about human traffickers, although the best way to protect them would be to provide livelihood and other resources to enable them to get back on their feet, a party-list representative, said.
Gabriela Representative Luz Ilagan scored the government anew for failing to protect vulnerable typhoon survivors, especially women and children, amid reports from various agencies that they have fallen prey to violence and human trafficking.
“…It appears that no program or government effort has been put in place to…prevent the trafficking of persons (from typhoon-affected areas), (while) the snail-paced rehabilitation efforts (only) make the situation worse,” Ilagan said in a statement.
Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao also called on the government to take action to prevent child trafficking in areas hit by Yolanda.
In a statement, the boxing icon urged the government to step up efforts to rehabilitate the devastated areas so the residents would not be vulnerable to exploitation by illegal recruiters.
Ilagan said Gabriela aired warnings against trafficking shortly after Yolanda flattened Samar and Leyte, but the authorities have not implemented any measures to prevent it.
In a separate phone interview, the party-list representative said the government could educate Yolanda survivors on how to protect themselves from unscrupulous persons falsely promising them jobs.
“If there’s a warning from the (local government unit), people would be more careful,” she said.
But ensuring the survivors’ self-sufficiency would be the most optimal way to prevent them from being exploited, Ilagan pointed out.
“The government must ensure that they have a source of income so they would not be lured by traffickers,” she said.
Citing a report by UK-based Plan International about the alleged recruitment of child workers, Ilagan warned of more cases of trafficking and prostitution in the calamity-stricken areas.
“We need to take into account the situation that these women are in. More than two months after the typhoon, many have yet to rebuild their lives and find alternative sources of livelihood,” she said.
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