RESPONDING to the call of Philippines Against Child Trafficking(PACT) to protect and help trafficked children, the three-month old Tanglaw Bahay Center (TBC) is now providing socio-economic services, reintegration, counseling and livelihood assistance including scholarships worth of P10,000 for every child victim.
“At present, Tanglaw Buhay caters to up to 30 trafficked children, who are limited in age to girls 18 year-old and below and excludes the street children”, said Dr. Marcelina Carpizo, director of Western Mindanao State University’s (WMSU) Center for Peace and Development.
During a conference with anti-trafficking stakeholders last October 22 at WMSU’s Guidance Conference Room, she said it is not easy to handle victims of trafficking, remarking that social workers involved should have patience, tolerance and varied working experiences. She disclosed that the center has two social workers and a psychologist who work for the complete rehabilitation of the children victims. In some cases the workers have to explain to parents of the victims who want to get their children that they were traumatized and should stay for at least six months in the center.
Carpizo pointed to certain factors for the rising tide of trafficking worldwide. These include globalization and poverty, culture, breakdown of families, lacks of education and information, official corruption and consumerism.
“Trafficker’ modus operandi to lure their victims include enticing them with jobs as domestic helpers, caregivers, performing artists, live-in trainees and movie actors, with mostly young girls from impoverished provinces as their target.
A report said the Philippines is one of the hotspots in Southeast Asia, where trafficking is US9.5-billion dollar business..
In an interview, Carpizo revealed recent cases involving two girls, one of whom who was brought from Pagadian to Bongao with a promise of marriage but instead ended up as a sex slave. The other girl was trained to pick pocket and was physically abused by a man in Zamboanga City. Both eventually managed to escape from their tormentors.
“Trafficking is a process”, she told participants of the training, involving such acts as abduction, transportation, exploitation, recruitment as elements that constitute trafficking. Trafficked victim should not be jailed, she said.
In the past years, two convictions have been reported in the courts of Zamboanga City. In November, 2005 three persons were sentenced to life imprisonment and fined a penalty of P2-million. In 2007, one person was convicted to life imprisonment and a penalty of P1-million.
The conference in WMSU examined existing mechanisms and structures, identifed the strength, weaknesses and gaps in terms of coordination and identification of recommendations, and made some plans based on priorities identified by stakeholders including the Barangay Councils for Protection of Children (BCPC). By doing so, “we will be guided in promoting the rightful access of children to policies and programs that ensure their development, survival, protection and participation in activities that have significant impact in their lives”, Carpizo said. .
“We have to have stronger mechanisms instead of becoming frustrated because part of our campaign are the threats from the syndicated traffickers”, Carpizo said.
Carpizo is also the national director of PACT, a leading network of advocates for child protection. Locally, PACT will spearhead the International Day Against Child Trafficking on December 12, with the theme of “Children Speak Out Against Trafficking, Find and Help Save the Trafficked Children”
Among the participants of the conference PACT members, government social workers, law enforcers, Church-based members, mediamen, and others.