The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) led the country’s observance of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (WDAT) through a series of activities from 29-31 July 2019 with this year’s theme “Isang Bayan, Isang Paninindigan Laban sa Trafficking ng Mamamayan.”
The three-day event kicked off with a discussion on the welfare and protection of the rights of Overseas Filipino Workers, “Katarungan, Trabaho at Pag-asa.”
The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), the International Justice Mission (IJM), and the Philippine National Police – Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC) presented their latest innovation in combatting online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) on 30 July 2019 at the SM Mall of Asia IMAX Theatre as part of IACAT’s three-day event in observance of the World Day Against Trafficking (WDAT) every 30th of July.
As she welcomed the audience, IACAT Undersecretary-in-Charge Emmeline Aglipay-Villar persuaded all those present to make their own personal commitment on what they can contribute to be part of the solution against OSEC.
IACAT then gave a sneak preview of its new infomercials, which will be shown in several moviehouses. It likewise displayed the Council’s new poster.
IJM, on the other hand, presented its Video In-Depth Interview (VIDI) kit, a tool meant to substitute live testimony of OSEC victims in court, lessening their trauma and helping in their recovery. IJM also ran its Child-Friendly Space Research video, which showed the importance of setting up a proper interview area for child-victims. IJM then turned over three (3) VIDI kits to the PNP-WCPC.
Meanwhile, the PNP-WCPC, in cooperation with Smart Communications, Inc. and IJM, bared the nationwide 24/7 hotline exclusively for OSEC cases. Those who wish to report OSEC cases may do so by texting ENDOSEC (space) message and sending it to 7444 ATIPD (28473).
DOJ Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, IACAT Chairperson, delivered the keynote address and led the ceremonial turnover of new posters and stickers to representatives of member agencies.
“Modern day slaves” instead of “modern day heroes”
During the program, Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Usec-in-Charge for IACAT, took note of the plight of some OFWs who ended up as “modern day slaves” because of the exploitation or maltreatment of their employers abroad.
Villar said, “It is the IACAT’s duty to prevent this from happening, to ensure the protection of our migrant workers, to prosecute traffickers and to aid trafficking survivors in their reintegration into society.”
To achieve this, she said the IACAT, through the help of other government agencies and non-government organizations, has implemented measures to protect migrant workers, to wit:
• signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Blas F. Ople Policy Center on the creation of an OFW Task Force that would help monitor and support cases involving the trafficking of our OFWs;
• creation of an inter-agency technical working group that would focus on the recruitment and deployment of minors and under-aged women to the Middle East; and
• establishment of a shelter for trafficking survivors as well as a one-stop victims’ assistance center to make it easier for trafficking survivors to seek free legal advice, avail of after-care services such as referrals for local employment, medical assistance, and psycho-social counseling.
Focus on migrant workers
IACAT OIC-Executive Director Rudiger G. Falcis II considered the event a milestone, the first IACAT event that focused on the rights and welfare of OFWs. “It is an affirmation of the high priority bestowed by the Duterte Administration and the Council itself on cases involving distressed and abused migrant workers,” Falcis said.
After the opening program, hundreds of OFW victim survivors participated in the job-fair sponsored by the Blas F. Ople Policy Center.
On 30 July 2019, IACAT launched Infomercials at the SM Mall of Asia IMAX Theater. The Departments of Justice (DOJ) and of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) likewise signed on 31 July 2019 a Memorandum of Agreement for the establishment of the IACAT Tahanan ng Inyong Pag-asa (TIP) Center. A groundbreaking ceremony for the IACAT TIP Center in Mandaluyong City was also held.
IACAT was created by virtue of Republic Act No. 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003). It is composed of the Secretaries of Justice and of the Social Welfare and Development as Chair and Co-Chair, respectively, with several government agencies and non-government organizations including the Ople Policy Center as members.
The UN General Assembly adopted a Resolution declaring July 30 of every year as the WDAT.