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PHL govt launches anti-human trafficking hotline


With almost a thousand cases of human trafficking involving Filipinos recorded as of February 2011, the Philippine government has launched a 24-hour anti-human trafficking hotline that will respond to emergency calls from victims in Metro Manila and the provinces. In a release posted Friday night, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking-Advocacy and Communications Committee (IACAT-ADVOCOM) launched the 1343 Actionline “Laban Kontra Human Trafficking" campaign, which became fully operational on March 15. The 1343 hotline may be accessed from any point in Metro Manila, and can be accessed from the provinces by dialing Manila's area code (02), and the hotline number. It is set to become toll free all over the nation and even globally in the near future, the DFA said. "We need this hotline because a lot of trafficking victims and their families need immediate response or aid. We are equipped to respond to their needs and if necessary, refer their cases to specific government agencies or our non-government organization partners," Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) Secretary and IACAT-ADVOCOM chairperson Imelda Nicolas said. She added the 1343 hotline will likewise serve as a database for the documentation of trafficking cases involving Filipino victims. The campaign is being carried out with various stakeholders including non-government organizations, women's groups, government agencies and the Philippine National Police (PNP). According to the DFA, a total of 20 convictions involving 20 traffickers were listed since the administration changed in June 2010. As of February 2011, there are 976 cases filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ), 930 of which involved trafficking for sexual exploitation, one involved organ trafficking, and 45 involved labor trafficking. From 2007 to 2010, the CFO has documented 268 cases of trafficking cases with a total of 452 victims, 79.51 percent of whom were women. Many of these victims were trafficked to Singapore and Malaysia, and were recruited as hotel receptionists, waitresses, or domestic helpers In launching the campaign, the IACAT-ADVOCOM partnered with the Dynamic Outsource Solutions (DOS1) to reach out to victims of trafficking using new technologies. Aside from the 1343 Actionline for trafficking victims, education and information campaigns on the positive and negative aspects of migration are also implemented through the CFO's Community Education Program (CEP). The CEP involves visiting barangays (villages) to provide training on how prospective migrants could avoid illegal recruitment and human trafficking, and to prepare them as well for life abroad. IACAT is chaired by the Department of Justice (DOJ), with the Department of Social Welfare and Development as co-chair. Its members are the DFA, Department of Labor and Employment, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Bureau of Immigration, PNP and the Philippine Commission on Women. The DFA defines human trafficking as the act of recruitment, transport, harboring or sale of persons within or across national borders for the purpose of exploiting their labor. In the Philippines, human trafficking channels, an industry which rakes in US$32 billion in revenues annually, are through mail-order bride schemes and illegal recruitment, the DFA said. In 2010, the US State Department said that it has kept the Philippines in its Tier 2 human trafficking watch list. This indicates that the country “does not fully comply with, but is making significant efforts to meet" the agency’s standards. (See: Philippines remains on US human trafficking watch list)—JV, GMA News
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