The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II Chairperson of IACAT, led government agencies, NGOs, members of civil society and faith-based organizations in strengthening the country’s commitment in fighting human trafficking on July 29, 2016, a day before the celebration of the 2016 World Day Against Trafficking (WDAT).
In 2013, all member states of the United Nations adopted resolution A/RES/68/192 and designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. This agreement uncovered the need to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
Aguirre reiterated that one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching orders to the Department of Justice is to prioritize the prosecution of heinous crimes, one of which is trafficking in persons. “We have to realize that the crime of human trafficking is a close second to the drug trade in terms of being the most lucrative organized transnational crime,” he said. Aguirre added that the reason for its high profit-low risk nature is that unlike the drug trade where its products can be consumed, the human beings used as commodity can easily be re-used and abused repeatedly.
Also present in the gathering are high ranking officials of the member agencies of IACAT as well as its stakeholders and duty-bearers in the country’s battle against modern-day slavery. “In solidifying their pledge of commitment, they have subscribed to strengthen the existing alliances and partnerships to all those involved in the campaign,” said Darlene Pajarito, Executive Director of IACAT. “This event intended to acquaint everyone involved in the Philippine’s anti-trafficking in persons campaign on all initiatives we have done, all programs that we are currently implementing, and all our plans to heed the President’s directive to intensify the fight against this crime,” Pajarito added.
In the recent State of the Nation Address, President Duterte showed his contempt against human traffickers and illegal recruiters who prey on Filipinos, claiming he considered these crimes in parity with the drug trade. To deal with this, he declared his intention to intensify the government’s war on this form of abuse.
Aguirre said that this gathering of leaders and advocates demonstrates the Philippine government’s resolve in dealing with this global concern. “Our spirits are high as we highlight the country’s gains against the crime of trafficking in persons, every person here has already heeded the call… but this doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels, we do not plan on being complacent,” he said.
“This gathering is a show of force, and the Filipino people can count on us to build on this momentum and double our efforts with the intent to protect our kababayans from evils of human trafficking,” Aguirre said.30