The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) hailed the efforts of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in protecting the welfare of Filipinos overseas, particularly in the Middle East. The Philippine Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq was instrumental in the rescue of maltreated Filipinos in Kurdistan, believed to be victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking.
IACAT cited the efforts made by Elmer G. Cato, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy, with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) which resulted to the rescue of twelve (12) Filipinas.
Investigation showed that the victims were initially recruited as spa attendants. However, their travel documents were held by their employer and were forced to carry out sexual acts to their clients.
IACAT Executive Director Darlene Pajarito lauded the resolve of Cato in proactively handling the situation. “CDA Cato faced the matter head on, found like-minded organizations to align with, and got the job done without expecting anything in return,” Pajarito said.
The said survivors have now been given assistance and repatriated with the help of the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Recent reports show that CDA Cato and his team have now aligned with IOM to help the government of Iraq to increase its capabilities in dealing with this reprehensible crime.
Pajarito expressed optimism on the partnership between the Philippine Embassy in Iraq and IOM and encouraged everyone to do their share in combatting human trafficking.
“The partnership between the CDA Cato and IOM shows that those who share the same commitment and passion to serve the public and defend the welfare of the vulnerable will ultimately find each other, and uphold the rule of law and the protect our people from all forms of abuse,” Pajarito stated.