While anti-trafficking efforts are being made to protect Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), the same should also be done for Filipinos in the Philippines, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said today during the 48th Anniversary Symposium of the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) at Camp Aguinaldo.
“As we justifiably condemn the indignities our kababayans can suffer in foreign lands, we cannot remain ignorant of the atrocities that occur at home but draw less attention,” Binay said.
“Human trafficking, whether perpetrated by foreign syndicates or local gangs, is a direct assault on our people and as such, is a national security issue,” he added.
The Vice President, who is the chairman emeritus of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and the presidential adviser on OFW concerns, noted that Filipinos who do not go abroad often flock to Manila in the hope of finding decent work and having a better life.
“Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to being abused and prostituted out. Men and boys can be relegated to cheap labor, gaining compensation far below the wage set by law, if they are paid at all,” he said.
Meanwhile, Binay said children in the remote areas of the country are equally exposed to exploitation as they are sometimes used as “combatants, servants and spies.”
“In 2010, the military rescued eight child soldiers conscripted by the New People’s Army (NPA). This past April, the UN (United Nations) registered 600 minors fitting the classification of child soldiers in the service of the MILF,” Binay said.
He added, however, that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has already vowed to stop the practice.
“It is our earnest prayer that the NPA and other armed groups in conflict with the government make the same pledge in the name of peace and humanity,” he said.
The Philippines was upgraded to Tier 2 Status in the 2011 Global Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report of the U.S. State Department, an improvement from the Tier 2 Watchlist status in the past two years.
“We cannot allow trafficking to lure more of our people into suffering. We must stop its attack on our nation’s soul,” the Vice President said.
“Tier 1 status is our quantifiable goal for the coming year. But beyond the recognition of world community, let the certainty of our people’s security be our primary desire,” he concluded.#