The call for a stronger child protection mechanism in communities sounded the battle cry on 6 December 2005 as advocates and development workers launched the week-long national anti-child trafficking campaign in various regions in the country. Joined by government agencies and civil society with young advocates and children themselves, PACT (Philippines Against Child Trafficking) launched its theme: "Building Communities; Creating a Good Life for the Filipino Children." This theme promotes the rightful access of children to policies and programs that ensure their development, survival, protection and participation in activities that have significant impact on their lives.
The growing battle to suppress human trafficking, particularly of women and children, is a rising struggle that calls for the involvement of children especially where communities and families fail to ensure their welfare; and which and who may at times, badly influence their concept of better living. Studies indicate the breakdown of families to be among the primary factors that push children to be trafficked, which accounts for the rescue of minors in exploitative situations within the country and across borders. Considering their lack of knowledge about trafficking, children are also vulnerable due to jobless parents on top of the struggle to achieve better living standards and conditions. Child trafficking case studies reveal the desire of Filipino children to augment family income for the benefit of siblings; however, it is common for trafficked children to lose ties with their families due to illegal acts involved in trafficking. There are also cases where children are recruited by their relatives or through parental consent.
The family has always been considered the most basic and important social unit of societies. The Filipino family is traditionally patriarchal in terms of economic needs and matriarchal in terms of emotional needs. Particularly Filipino children are said to be more dependent on such parental care as compared to other countries. This rich family tradition in the Philippines, however, is significantly changing. UNICEF 2003 reports indicate 11 percent of Filipino children (5-14 years) to be involved in child labor, 10 percent of which represented by girl-children and 12 percent by boy-children. In the late 90s, social welfare agencies and NGOs indicate 60,000 prostituted Filipino children. These figures are conservative estimates if the present problem of trafficking is to be considered. Records reveal 935 cases of human trafficking in the Philippines from 1993 to March 2001, with 25 percent of Filipino women victims forced into prostitution. Fifty-one percent of the victims were trafficked with their consent and 49 percent said to be deceived.
Since its first nationwide campaign in 2003, PACT has annually called for solidarity in combating child trafficking with mass information and community education efforts and the training of trainers in government to better facilitate preventive measures and intervention in communities. The key challenge today is ensuring the valuable implementation of the community-based mechanism placed in every barangay to address the survival, development, protection and participation rights of children. Child 21 (which pertains to the Philippine National Strategic Framework for Plan Development for Children, 2005-2025) states that the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children to be this major and critical community-based mechanism under the premise that the rights of Filipino children must be upheld and addressed by all stakeholders—the family, communities, non-government organizations, local government units (LGUs), and the children themselves.
The passage of Republic Act 9208 or the "Anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2003" was adopted in May 26, 2003 to suppress and penalize the crime of human trafficking, particularly of women and children. Created through this law is the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) which is responsible for coordinating and monitoring the implementation of laws, programs and services for victims of trafficking. The localization of the IACAT in communities through the organization of LGUs is a recent initiative in counter-trafficking efforts by key government agencies.
The PACT 2005 national campaign culminated on 12 December 2005 in commemoration of the Palermo Protocol to suppress the trafficking in persons. On this day, the Young Persons Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (YP-ACSEC) and other youth organizations from various provinces brought their advocacy to the public in the call to convict traffickers and exploiters of children
For more information, please contact
Medge S. Olivares
National Campaign Secretariat
Media Relations, National Capital Region
End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and
the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes
Tel: +632 9208158, ext. 107
Fax: +632 9299642
Search the entirety of the site for resources or updates.