Davao’s human trafficking watch group formed

Jul. 22, 2012

Only 23 convictions were done in the country since 2005 while three convictions were reported in the region since 2003.

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A human trafficking watch group was formed here Friday in an attempt to improve the country’s poor performance rating by the US State Department.

“Women and children are most vulnerable to human trafficking and yet the government has not made any comprehensive program to curb trafficking,” said May Ann Sapar, secretary-general of militant women’s group Gabriela.

Cases filed in court fail to prosper due to the lack of support to the victims and their vital witnesses, GABRIELA added when asked by davaotoday.com.

“We are rated under category 2 by the US,” Regional Prosecutor Antonio Arellano said during the launching of the Regional Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking Integrated Action Network or RIACTION.

Category 2 means the country is trying its best but is not successful in complying with the minimum standards to combat human trafficking.

US financial aid to countries under category 2 is usually affected. In the case of the Philippines, almost $300 million might be lost if the country’s rating in terms of conviction of human trafficking cases now pending in courts fail, Arellano added.

Only 23 convictions were done in the country since 2005 while three convictions were reported in the region since 2003, the regional prosecutor said.

Human trafficking cases do not prosper in courts due to lack of witnesses, Arellano stressed, that’s why RIACTION was activated “to enhance inter-agency coordination.”

Its main concern will be the prevention of trafficking in person in Davao International Airport (DIA). Further, the group will also be involved in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers and the provision of psycho-social and livelihood assistance to the victims.

It will be headed by the DOJ and the DSWD together with the Aviation Security Group stationed at the DIA, the PNP, Immigration, DFA, POEA and the NBI.

Despite the enactment of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act or RA 9208 in 2003, the country failed to eradicate the phenomenon of human trafficking. Fighting the crime needs wide-ranging and broad approach, according to GABRIELA. It also added that the government must address poverty which pushes women and children to become victims of human trafficking. (Alex D. Lopez,davaotoday.com)

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