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Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima has requested the heads of the different member agencies of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), the government’s central body mandated to combat human trafficking, urging them to plan and implement an advocacy campaign to discourage Filipino migrant workers from travelling to Syria.

“We hope to undertake this by familiarizing Filipino migrant workers with the modus operandi of the traffickers and alerting of the imminent risks that they may face due to the political instability in the said destination country,” De Lima said

The initiative was triggered by reports that household service workers continue to be smuggled or trafficked to Syria through Dubai and Oman and other Asian cities despite the existing deployment ban imposed by the Philippines.

On August 17, 2011, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), an IACAT Council Member, issued Resolution No. 3, Series of 2011 through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) governing board imposing a total ban on the deployment of migrant workers to Syria.

The mass repatriation of OFWs on the last quarter of 2012 from the strife-torn country gave way to the discovery of numerous repatriated workers with no proper travel documents and/or no existing records of leaving the country.

Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar, undersecretary-in-charge of IACAT, stated that the memorandum issued by the secretary will help raise the consciousness of Filipinos seeking employment overseas against the perils of bypassing government protocols.

“This advocacy campaign will reiterate the government’s commitment to fight human trafficking by preventing our countrymen from being trafficked in the first place,” Salazar said.

The Memorandum was issued to Department of Social Work and Development, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Interior and Local Government, Commission on Filipinos Overseas, Philippine National Police, Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration, Bureau of Immigration, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Commission of Transnational Crime, Council for Women and Children, and Philippine Commission for Women.