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The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) has appointed an accomplished anti-human trafficking advocate as the first Executive Director of the IACAT Secretariat to run the day-to-day affairs of the government’s anti-human trafficking campaign.

Assistant City Prosecutor Darlene R. Pajarito, who served as a public prosecutor in Zamboanga City, was nominated and unanimously voted as Executive Director (ED) by the heads of IACAT member agencies and non-government organization (NGO) members in the recent council meeting led by Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima, Chairperson of IACAT.

Sec. De Lima said Prosecutor Pajarito has been a long-time advocate against human trafficking, and she has the zeal and the competence necessary to get the job done. “We are sure that we have the right person for the job,” De Lima added.

Pajarito was a 2011 Global Trafficking in Persons Hero’s Awardee by the United States Department of State. She was the first prosecutor to secure the country’s first conviction on sex trafficking and second conviction on labor trafficking in 2005 and 2011, respectively.

The IACAT Council meeting was attended by Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) Secretary Imelda Nicolas, NBI Director Virgilio Mendez, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Undersecretary Parisya Taraji, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Peter Corvera, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Director Robert Larga, Philippine Center on Transnational Crimes (PCTC) Police Director Alfredo Caballes, International Justice Mission (IJM) Manila Field Office Director Sam Inocencio, Visayan Forum President Cecil Oebanda, and other representatives of council members of IACAT.

The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 or Republic Act 10364, mandates the creation of a secretariat to be headed by an Executive Director, “who shall be appointed by the Secretary of the DOJ upon the recommendation of the Council.” The Executive Director is tasked to monitor the daily operations of IACAT.

Pajarito was earlier assigned by the Secretary De Lima as the Officer in Charge of the IACAT after Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar, formerly in charge of IACAT, was appointed as the head of the Energy Regulatory Board.

“I needed someone with the right passion, attitude and exposure in fighting human trafficking,” De Lima said.

On her part, the ED said she is humbled by the unanimous appointment of the council, saying “I appreciate the confidence and trust that the Council has expressed in me… I will do my best to serve this position.”30