Saturday, 11 August 2012
More Vigilance Vs. Trafficking by Marriage
The clamor for upscaling the fight against Human Trafficking has resulted in tighter monitoring by concerned government agencies in the Inter-Agency Council Against Human Trafficking (IACAT). A statement released by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) clarified its role in the campaign, as head of the IACAT's Committee on Advocacy and Communication (ADVOCOM).
Despite the establishment by the CFO with the cooperation of IACAT members of the 1343 hotline (operating on a 24/7 basis) against Human Trafficking, many victims still do not file charges against their recruiters. Since it was established a year and a half ago, the hotline has received 11,000 calls from local and overseas sources, with recorded 165 case calls, of which 52 are reportedly victims of human trafficking.
Due to the need for closer surveillance of the perpetrators of Human Trafficking, especially via marriage bureaus or syndicates, the CFO took over since July 16 from two private service providers the conduct of Guidance & Counseling Services for Filipino spouses of foreign partners.
Doubts had been raised regarding the improper use of the CFO sticker which is affixed to passports of spouses and partners of foreign nationals upon presentation of the completion of the counseling. The CFO has expanded its services and taken a direct hand to ensure the legitimacy of the documents being presented.
The CFO emphasized that convergence initiatives of the Aquino government have resulted in stronger IACAT coordination in the wake of the marked increase in the number of Filipino women with foreign spouses headed for abroad, especially for South Korea.
The recent successes reported by the Bureau of Immigration in curbing the efforts of traffickers using "fake" or "arranged" marriages as basis for transporting Filipino women prove that this is an effective way to nip the problem at various points of the departure processing system.
While the CFO recently forged an agreement with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF) of South Korea to improve the delivery of information and assistance here and abroad, this is still no guarantee that our nationals will be well-protected.
Trafficking, in the guise of intermarriage, is a known practice, which is now using advances in technology like the internet. The CFO case monitoring databank also shows that offers of overseas employment via marriage is a source of income for local prostitution rings, sometimes with the collusion of the victims' relatives and friends.
The need for heavily penalizing and revealing the identity of the perpetrators of mail order bride schemes and other forms of human trafficking cannot be overemphasized. The CFO strongly urges policy reform via changes in the Anti-Mail Order Bride Law (RA 6955) and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (RA 9208), as initiatives of the IACAT-ADVOCOM will need the cooperation of all stakeholders.
Undersecretary Mary Grace Tirona
Executive Director, Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO)
August 6, 2012
Contact numbers: (632)552-4700