“There is a need to intensify the advocacy against  human trafficking, especially in Mindanao,  since the region has now become prone to natural calamities and poverty incidence is still high.”

This was the message of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Undersecretary Luzviminda C. Ilagan as she raised the need for community information regarding trafficking during the observance of International Day Against Trafficking (IDAT) held in December in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte. The event’s theme was “Karapatan ng Kabataan Pangalagaan, Human Trafficking ay Labanan”.

 In 2018, DSWD served 2,318 victims-survivors of human trafficking nationwide. Of this number,   569 came from Regions  IX, X, XI, and XII or the Mindanao regions.  In 2017, some 528 victims-survivors were assisted by the Department in the four regions.

Usec. Ilagan emphasized, “Evacuation centers are places to watch in the aftermath of man-made or natural disasters because these are where trafficking happens”.

She noted that even when victims knew the danger, they succumbed due to pressing needs.

There is a need to keep an eye on evacuation sites where a number of women have been trafficked,” Usec Ilagan stated.

“Because of their circumstances, even if they know that something is wrong with illegal recruitment, but because of the need,” she added, explaining further that poverty and the desire to help their families lure victims, who are usually women, to try their luck in major cities or abroad. Hence, they often fall prey to illegal recruiters.

Usec. Ilagan added that families  and communities should be made aware of the dangers of trafficking or the transport of people who are being exploited through deceptive promises usually of good jobs.

She also pointed out the need for public information, inter-agency cooperation, and strengthening of local trafficking councils, which should be funded by local government units because of some expenses that would be incurred in running the affairs of such council.

It is important to sustain this campaign and this inter-agency council but it has to be all of government approach because one agency cannot do it alone,” Usec Ilagan added.

The Department, together with other national government agencies comprising the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), monitors the implementation of Republic Act No. 10364 or The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012. It is an act expanding Republic Act No. 9208, entitled “An act to institute policies to eliminate trafficking in persons especially women and children, establishing the necessary institutional mechanisms for the protection and support of trafficked persons, providing penalties for its violations and for other purposes.”

The DSWD assists trafficked persons under the Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons (RRPTP) which ensures that they are extended with adequate recovery and reintegration services. RRPTP utilizes a multi-sectoral approach and delivers a complete package of services to enhance the psychosocial, social, and economic needs of the clients. This includes temporary shelter; skills training; psycho-social counseling; transportation, financial, medical, educational, and livelihood assistance; as well as, referral to other agencies for  additional needed interventions.

The beneficiaries of the program include the victims-survivors of trafficking who are returning or have returned to the Philippines, their families and relatives, and communities with a high incidence of trafficking. ###