Justice Secretary Leila De Lima lauded various governments who convened for the "First International Dialogue on Human Trafficking" that led to the signing of the "Manila Declaration to Enhance International Cooperation in Combating Human Trafficking.
Secretary De Lima saluted the more than one hundred conference delegates from 19 different embassies in the Philippines, 11 non-government organizations (NGOs), and 15 government agencies “for refusing to look away and instead identifying more decisive steps to combat this global menace.”
She likewise emphasized that “when those who can do something to stop human trafficking look away, the dreams of the victims of this crime die”. She noted that Filipinos who fall prey to human trafficking syndicates are vulnerable because they are willing to pursue their dreams at whatever cost.
Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar, in-charge of IACAT, underscored the significance of the two-day event in the mandate of all government involved in fighting human trafficking. “This International Dialogue is a key element in moving forward in our drive against human trafficking as it seeks to integrate all the efforts of the international community into a cohesive approach in ending modern-day slavery,” Salazar said
Salazar delivered the Manila Declaration before the participants of the event, affirming the strengthened cooperation and to address human trafficking as a serious international concern.
The Manila Declaration recognized that there is an urgent need for a comprehensive international approach to prevent and combat human trafficking. Also, the delegates agreed that an effective international approach against human trafficking requires innovative actions in the face of changing schemes of perpetrators, along with continued dialogue, exchange of information through sanctioned channels and cooperation among stakeholders.
“Acknowledging that each one of us has a role and responsibility to build barriers against, and effectively fight human trafficking, at every step of a trafficking victim’s experience, including the recruitment stage, visa and immigration process and employment, victim identification procedures, as well as during the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators for the ultimate protection of victims,” the declaration states.
“This International Dialogue on Human Trafficking is the first of its kind, and the Philippines along with its allies in the international community recognize the need for better coordination and a coherent plan to incorporate our complementary approaches, ultimately to end trafficking in persons and all forms of human exploitation,” Salazar said.
The event was organized by the Philippine Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.