PPA vows continued support to anti-trafficking drive

Dec. 09, 2009

DAVAO CITY—Philippine Ports Authority Port District Office-Southern Mindanao (PPA PDO-SoMin) unites with volunteers from government and non-government organizations (NGOs) on the War Against Human Trafficking (WAT) campaign.

Recently, a motorcade was organized by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat)-Davao City chapter in cooperation with the Music Television (MTV) Philippines and the United States Aid for International Development (USaid), this brings to the core the collective answer to the perils posed by trafficking-in-persons (TIP).

At the public rally held at the Magsaysay Park preceding the motorcade, multi-sectoral representatives also signed the ceremonial Manifesto on the WAT.

The motorcade ended in the SM City Davao open parking space with a free concert sponsored dubbed as MTV End Exploitation and Trafficking (Exit) which featured popular local bands, namely, Imago, Itchyworms and Moymoy Palaboy.

PPA has always been a staunch advocate of the campaign against TIP, especially that those who fall prey are women and children who are transported individually or in groups by syndicates and unscrupulous agents/handlers using the ports.

The PPA has been considered as the pioneer in institutionalizing a response to TIP, establishing the Bahay Silungan sa Daungan (BSD) through its gender and development program in the Manila North Harbor in 2000.

Known earlier as Halfway House, the BSD was first established in 1996 to provide temporary shelter to stranded passengers before it became a full-blown testament against TIP when it was renamed as the BSD in 2000.

BSDs, strategically located at the PPA major baseports nationwide, are being co-managed by the Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc. (VFFI), an NGO which specializes on direct interventions for child domestic laborers, migrant workers and trafficked women and children.

VFFI national president and executive director Cecilia Flores-Oebenda, one of the key movers in the battle to end TIP and an Iacat convener, also personally graced the event and signed the said manifesto.

In Davao City, the PPA Port Management Office (PMO) – Davao has operated a BSD since 2002 located near its passenger terminal building at Km. 10, Barangay Sasa.

Apart from the first BSD in Davao City, PPA also set one up in the Zamboanga in January 11, 2008.

Currently, there are a total of eight BSDs in the ports operating in the country located. These are located in North Harbor, South Harbor, Davao City, Matnog (Sorsogon), Batangas City, IloIlo City, Zamboanga City and Surigao City. BSDs are open 24/7 and provide the following services in partnership with law enforcement agencies: early detection, investigation, arrest, counseling, temporary shelter, repatriation, case filing/prosecution and reintegration of potentially trafficked persons.

The United States Department of State recognizes the partnership of PPA, VFFI and law enforcement agencies in operating the BSDs as a best practice worldwide in its 2008 annual report.

These BSDs in the ports have been the precursor of the halfway house constructed in the Manila International Airport inaugurated on October 7, 2008.

TIP, according to the Philippine Republic Act 9208 of 2003, “refers to the recruitment, transportation, transfer or harboring, or receipt of persons with or without the victim’s consent or knowledge, within or across national borders by means of threat or use of force, or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or, the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation which includes at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery, servitude or the removal or sale of organs.”

Even if the above described circumstances are not present, an act is considered TIP if it includes the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation.

To report possible victims of trafficking, you may call these hotlines in Davao City: (082) 227-7519, (082) 233-2500, (082) 235-2574 and (082) 233-2080. (PPA)

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