In a move to formalize the Republic of the Philippines-United States' stance on the Anti-Trafficking in Person (TIP) drive, the US granted US $250,000 to the Philippine Ports Authority-Ports Management Office (PPA-PMO) in Davao recently to intensify the anti-trafficking campaign nationwide.
Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney said, “It is really a model for all of us -– the kind of cooperation and collaboration we can have to protect our citizens. Trafficking in person is a global problem; it preys on our weakest citizens and people who do not know better.”
On the other hand, PPA assistant General Manager for Finance and Administration Aida Dizon said, “We laud the US Department of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for the strong support in the advocacy against TIP.”
The said grant was handed to Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc. (VFFI), the non-government organization (NGO) partner of the PPA in the management of the halfway houses in major ports of the country. "This unique collaboration to address trafficking between government and VFFI as an NGO through the halfway houses in the seaports will also be replicated in the Philippine airports – a first in Asia and the world,” said VFFI President Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda.
PPA, through its Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Point and in partnership with VFFI, is currently operating four halfway houses in strategic major ports, namely, Manila North Harbor, Batangas, Matnog in Sorsogon and Davao (Sasa). The halfway house project was conceptualized by Dizon as early as 1996, in response to the plight of stranded passengers in the ports.
Most of these passengers are women and children traveling without valid itineraries or reputable work opportunities to support themselves upon their arrival in their ports of destination. In July 2000, the first halfway house in Manila North Harbor was opened to the public and was later renamed as Bahay Silungan sa Daungan (BSD). It has since served as a temporary shelter of potentially trafficked persons.
Fleeing from poverty, majority of those recruited through trafficking are being lured into cities, urban centers or even countries with a promise of a better life and livelihood only to find out that they are pushed to forced labor, pornography, drug smuggling and other forms of illegal trade. Initially, trafficked persons often travel in groups and are accompanied by so-called “Kuya” and “Ate” who also serve as their recruiters. These unscrupulous recruiters would earlier brief them to give uniform or scripted answers to authorities and strangers alike about their true identity, age and the nature of their supposed future jobs.
Through the halfway houses, issues such as early detection, investigation, arrest, counseling, temporary shelter, repatriation, case filing/prosecution and reintegration of potentially trafficked persons can now be properly addressed. A network of government agencies (e.g. PPA police, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Local Government Units, Departments of Justice, Labor and Employment, Social Services and Development) and private sector that includes the shipping lines, porterage workers, VFFI, among others, also serve as the frontline defense against this social menace.
According to VFFI records, in Davao City alone, a total of 1,647, mostly women and minors, have already been given assistance and appropriate interventions through the halfway house at the Sasa Port from 2002-2005. (PNA)
Adapted from: "US backs deal on anti-trafficking in RP ports." Balita. 2 November 2006.
Search the entirety of the site for resources or updates.