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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau


Human trafficking preventive education program for the youth pushed
Writer: Ma. Victoria I. Palomar, Media Affairs and Public Relations Service
11 January 2016 08:05:02 AM


A lawmaker has sought the establishment of a human trafficking preventive education program for the youth.

Rep. Sherwin T. Gatchalian (1st District, Valenzuela City) said his proposal contained in House Bill 5709 seeks to increase the level of awareness of the youth on the problem of human trafficking.

Citing 2014 data, Gatchalian disclosed that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) assisted 1,824 human trafficking victims nationwide.

"This official statistics is most likely a mere fraction of the actual number which includes unreported cases. These crimes often go unreported because victims lack information on human trafficking, and the families of victims accept the situation as normal," he said.

Likewise, the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report released by the United States Department of State categorized the Philippines as a Tier 2 country, according to Gatchalian.

"This means that the government has yet to determine the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking," Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian, vice chairman of the Committees on Housing and Urban Development, on Metro Manila Development and on Tourism, expressed concern for children who are some of the most vulnerable victims of trafficking.

"Domestically, there are 2.2 million child laborers between the ages of 15-17, many of whom are engaged in hazardous unskilled working environments," he said.

He elaborated that some children work in virtual slavery in the informal employment sector as domestic helpers.

"Others are exploited for prostitution and pornography, while children in war-torn areas with communist and Moro separatist movements are easy targets for forced conscription into the armed movements," Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian proposed the establishment of a Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program to be facilitated by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Council).

The Program aims to orient the youth about the dangers of international and domestic human trafficking in its various forms including but not limited to illegal recruitment, unfair labor practices, involuntary servitude, sexual exploitation and prostitution, and child labor.

It also seeks to provide the youth with information on services provided by government agencies and non-governmental organizations to aid and protect victims of human trafficking as well as identify members of the youth who have been, or currently victims of human trafficking and refer them to the proper agency or organization for protection and rehabilitation, among others.

The bill mandates the Council, in cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to implement a School-Based Program to accomplish the objectives of the Act.

The measure provides that the School-Based Program shall cover all students enrolled in junior high schools, senior high schools, colleges and universities, and technical or vocational education programs.

Likewise, the proposal directs the Council, in cooperation with the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) to implement a Community-Based Program to cover all out-of-school youth in the country and to be implemented at the barangay level.

Gatchalian said that it shall be the responsibility of the Council to prioritize the implementation of the Program in conflict-afflicted areas with special emphasis on human trafficking practices perpetrated in conflict-afflicted areas.

Gatchalian said the program will arm the youth sector from all walks of life with the information they need to protect themselves from becoming victims of trafficking.

"In addition, the Program will institute grassroots reporting mechanisms to empower community members to take a stand against human trafficking with decisive action against the heinous criminals who seek to degrade our most fundamental human rights," Gatchalian said.