TAGBILARAN CITY – The fight against human trafficking is not a struggle in the brothels alone but a struggle in minds, Assistant Secretary Neil Silva of the Department of Justice said.
Silva, the keynote speaker of the 3rd Anti-Human Trafficking Summit held yesterday at Bohol Cultural Center in this city, said that protection of the rights of the victims and efforts in curbing trafficking in persons “must be holistic.” One of these approaches is what he called “victim centered,” while addressing the root cause — the “vulnerability” of the prey. But it needs a concerted effort, quoting Gov. Edgar Chatto’s call for cooperation with all sectors in combating human trafficking, Silva said. The job of the government agencies concerned is not to prosecute the perpetrators or to rescue the victims but also to make the victims go back to the mainstream.
In running after the human traffickers, the DOJ is partnered with, not just the law enforcers, but also other private and the Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT). For his part, John Fazio, political officer of the United State Embassy, said that “human trafficking is a global (problem) but it needs local solutions.” The campaign is making progress as the number of convictions of human trafficking cases increase from 37 to 52, Silva said. Data showed that convictions from 2003-2014 totaled 179, 34 of which were in Central Visayas but none in Bohol. Cebu City had 25; Lapulapu City, 6; Mandaue, 2; and Toledo, one.
There are 254 cases of human trafficking in 2003 and 97 as of June 2014 with28 are minors and 69 adults, data presented by Atty. Ma. Laarni Guico of the International Justice Mission (IJM), showed. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office report as quoted by Guico showed that youngest victim of human trafficking is four years old. There were eight (8) cases reported; two preys in pornography; sexual exploit, 6 of fourteen years old and below (minors). Twenty-six cases of minors (15-17 years old) are reported and 25 of these are sexual exploitation; and three in forced labor. Twenty nine cases reported, eleven of these are into sexual exploits and 18 forced labor of persons aged 18-22.
The United Nations approximates 2.5 million worldwide are victims of human trafficking. The International Labor Organization (ILO), Guico said, estimated that some 12.3 million of persons are into forced labor “in which 2.4 million victims of human trafficking.”In the Philippines an estimate or between 300,000 and 400,000 are women and 60,000-100,000 are children victims of trafficking in persons, Guico said. (rvo)