Esteemed leaders of faith-based communities, honoured allies in the struggle against human trafficking
Sisters and brother’s, ladies and gentlemen:
I am privileged to welcome you and greet you this afternoon, as we remark the 13th year of the signing of the Palermo Protocol against Trafficking in Persons; and I must say that I am awed by this inspiring spectacle. It is overwhelming to see a gathering of what we may call the willing ones: those who, regardless of differences in their beliefs and convictions, now pray as one believing people for our country, resolved to fight as one against the menace that is corrupting our society today, which is human trafficking.
Hard experience tells us that human trafficking is a systematic problem that requires a multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional solution. We need advocacy and PREVENTION, to build public awareness and source, transit and destination countries, and to empower the community to resist the blandishments of trafficking syndicates. We need measures of PROTECTION to ensure the recovery and reintegration of trafficking victims, and to keep them for becoming victims again. We need law enforcement and PROSECUTION, to bring the perpetrators of trafficking to justice and we hope to repentance. And we need PARTNERHIP, for only the collaboration of local and international non-traditional actors can fight who cross the borders at half of the speed of sound and cyber-pornographers who exploit victims at speed of light.
But this 4P paradigm is incomplete, for it does not address the fact that phenomenon of human trafficking is, at its core, a corruption of the spirit, if our mind cannot see in our fellow human beings the image of their Creator, then we would more easily exploit them for selfish ends, if our wills reject the law written in our hearts, the we would more readily ignore the stirrings of conscience amid the spectacle of human suffering. If our senses are enthralled by the noise of a wealth-seeking and pleasure-desiring world, then we cannot hear the Voice that tells us: love one another as I have loved you.
Therefore, to complement the material 4 P’s that guide our outward work against trafficking, I propose the spiritual 4 P’s to animate the inward dimension of our mission: PENITENCE, which bids us repent and turn away from the selfishness and indifference that feeds the culture of trafficking; PERSEVERANCE, by which we strive without ceasing to bring justice and mercy to the perpetrators and victims of trafficking; PATIENCE, through which we face the inevitable imperfections in our organizations and in ourselves with passion and compassion; and PRAYER, by which we lift up our hearts, in praise because it is right and just, and in petition because apart from Him we can do nothing.
Someone once said that we work, we work; but when we pray, God works. That is precisely the reason we are gathered here today. Through prayer, we acknowledge the limits of our abilities and implore. We ask Him to infuse truth into our minds and courage onto our hearts, that we might face challenges with faith and hope. Above all, we ask Him for the gift of caritas, the unconditional love that would make us patient, kind, and unfailing in our service to others, especially the least of our brethren, for the sake of Him Who loved us first. Thus His consuming fire would descend upon us, transforming our country from bruised reed into a pillar of truth, build on the rock of justice.
Ten years after our country enacted the Anti-Trafficking in Person Act, thirteen years after the Palermo protocol was opened for signing, and sixty-five years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, our struggle continues. We have won many victories against modern-day slavery, especially under our current reformist leadership, but our country still faces many challenges, now increased by natural calamities that gave displaced thousands of our people. Therefore, let us unite-government agencies, vulnerable countrymen from those might seek to exploit them. Let us wield the 5 Ps of matter and the 4 Ps of spirit against the corruption that is human trafficking. Together, let us build a society that follows the law nature and its Creator, and revers the God-give dignity of every human being.
“Wakasan ang Human Trafficking! Itto’y Ating Tungkulin.”
Maraming salamat po. May god bless our collective endeavors.