Schools, barangays lead the campaign against trafficking
Quezon City, 8 December 2011 –Communities must play a more active role in the campaign against child trafficking by conducting awareness raising activities in the barangays, schools, churches, factories, and streets and wherever there are people who may be possible targets of traffickers.
This was the call of the Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT) – with 43 nationwide chapters – during the annual observance of International Day Against Trafficking. More than 16,000 students, barangay officials and residents will be taking part all over the country in a week-long series of activities from December 5-12 themed “Komunidad Palakasin, Child Trafficking Sugpuin,” [Empower Communities to Combat Child Trafficking] and conducted in partnership with the Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
According to Maria Salome Ujano, PACT national coordinator, children are often at risk of being exploited and trafficked because of circumstances in the community. “Trafficking lurks in our family, our schools and our community, when there are no income opportunities and people live in poverty, when men consider it their privilege to buy children and women for sex and when people especially children are sold for exploitative labor, when people are ignorant of their rights and of laws that affect them and when government does not establish mechanisms to effectively implement the law,” she added.
Children living in abusive or violent families are also vulnerable. Ujano also warned children and their parents to be cautious in using the internet and other modern technology which traffickers may use this to lure or deceive their victims.
Ujano called on “Parents to fill their homes with love and support their children’s needs, especially education. If parents need to migrate for work, they must ensure that their children are under the care of trusted and responsible adult caregivers. For their part, schools should discuss the issue of child trafficking and other forms of abuse and exploitation among their students so they can protect themselves and provide scholarships opportunities for children so they can continue their education uninterrupted.
Finally, barangays are responsible for raising the consciousness of parents on the issue, and supporting local livelihood opportunities so that their children will not be forced to work. They should mandate recruiters to register with the barangay, monitor recruitment activities in the community and activate their Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) or the Barangay Violence against Women and Children (VAWC) desk for the implementation of programs for children and against all forms of violence”.
The school and barangay based campaign anti-trafficking activities being held nationwide are supported by the Department of Education and the Department of Interior and Local Government. Among some of the activities being held are motorcades, parades, school film showing, lectures and fora, barangay education sessions, press conferences, and radio hopping, academic contests on slogan and poster making, essay writing, song writing contests, extemporaneous speech on anti-trafficking and interfaith prayer.
The December 12 International Day Against Trafficking is held annually in observance of the signing by majority of the countries of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, also known as the Palermo Protocol.