Thursday, July 27, 2017

Caraga RIACAT-VAWC intensifies campaign vs trafficking in persons

By Venus L. Garcia

BUTUAN CITY, July 27 (PIA) – The value and respect for life, dignity, and human rights hold ground for efforts of the Caraga Regional Inter-agency Committee against Trafficking in Persons and Violence against Women and Children (RIACAT-VAWC) to pursue strong commitment and amplified advocacy campaign against trafficking in persons (TIP) in the region.

“Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims including the Philippines. That’s why we plotted activities every year in observance of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons in order to raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their human rights,” said Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Caraga social worker officer and focal person of RIACAT-VAWC Jesse Catherine Aranas in a press conference.

She cited that the province of Agusan del Sur bared the highest case of human trafficking due to its remote and rural geographical location wherein many are prone to becoming potential victims of illegal recruitment or sexual exploitation. Aranas added that poverty is also a contributing factor that makes the victims feel their sense of responsibility in the family and think that it's the only way to help uplift their situation.

According to Atty. Clementino Rabor, assistant regional prosecutor of Department of Justice Caraga and chairperson of the Regional Anti-Trafficking Task Force (RATTF), “there are already six convictions for the offense on human trafficking in Caraga region. Three for sexual exploitation (prostitution and cyber pornography) and three for labour exploitation (illegal recruitment) in particular.”

Rabor further revealed that 89 cases are already pending in court. Also, per DSWD Caraga data, Caraga has been beset by a total of 381 trafficking in persons cases from 2011-2017 (1st semester). These are just cases which are officially reported and may or may not be reflecting the entire cases of human trafficking reported by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).

RIACAT-VAWC interventions

“Of the 381 cases reported to the DSWD, the exploitative purposes revealed the following: forced labor, debt bondage, prostitution, pornography, and slavery,” said Aranas.

Based on data, the typical profile of the victim-survivors of human trafficking in the region usually includes women, between 18-30 years old, has reached the elementary level, coming from marginalized families with labor works, fishing or errand occupations and are recruited into labour trafficking.

“Aside from reason of poverty, the common factors why these victim-survivors are scourged into this kind of situations revealed but not limited to lack of employment opportunities due to low educational attainment, influence of technology, peer influence and lack of awareness of protection laws,” said Aranas.

With this, the RIACAT-VAWC inter-agency members provide different interventions and services to the survivors of trafficking and communities which include legal services/prosecution/law enforcement; health, social, educational, referral services; prevention and advocacy activities.

“Specifically, through the Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons (RRPTP) of the DSWD which is a comprehensive program that ensures adequate recovery and reintegration services provided to trafficked persons, the TIP survivors are served through utilizing a multi-sectoral approach which delivers a complete package of services that will enhance the psychosocial, social and economic needs of the clients. It also enhances awareness, skills, and capabilities of the clients, the families and the communities where the trafficked persons will be eventually reintegrated,” said Aranas.

The RRPTP services include logistical support during pre and post rescue of TIP survivors; temporary shelter; support services (transportation assistance/auxiliary services, medical assistance, educational assistance); economic reintegration services (skills training, financial assistance for employment and livelihood).

“We have a strong and very functional RIACAT-VAWC but we need the constant help of the community to expose such criminality. Our heart is for genuine service to the community and grassroots,” remarked Andrie Calaque, advocacy officer of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation – Integrated Development Center, Incorporated.

The blue heart campaign

As part of the advocacy campaign that allows people to show solidarity with the victims of human trafficking, people are encouraged to wear the ‘blue heart’.

The blue heart represents the sadness of those who are trafficked while reminding every one of the cold-heartedness of those who buy and sell fellow human beings. The use of the blue United Nations (UN) color also demonstrates the commitment of the UN to combat the crime against human dignity.

“We encourage the involvement of the people and inspire action to help stop the crime through the blue heart campaign. It is adopted by several countries all over the world and seeks to raise awareness of the plight of victims. The DSWD will cater related concerns round the clock. VAWC desk is also established in every barangay,” said Tita Ebcas of Butuan CSWD.

Human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children, and men for numerous purposes including forced labour and sex. The International Labour Organization estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally. This estimate also includes victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation. While it is known how many of these victims were trafficked, the estimate implies that currently, there are millions of trafficking in persons victims in the world.

2017 World Day against TIP

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly designated July 30 of every year as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons (WDTP).

As the Caraga RIACAT-VAWC celebrates its second year, series of activities have already been laid down to be participated by respective stakeholders and the Caraganons.

Video advocacy campaign, radio guesting and press conference on the WDTP were conducted locally. A thanksgiving mass and motorcade will also take place on the 28th of July.

There will also be a logo-making contest with participants coming from member-agencies of RIACAT-VAWC and a dance drama contest for high school students coming from the province of Agusan del Norte and Butuan City. The public can also view the photo gallery and participate in a photo booth activity at the Robinsons Butuan.

DILG Caraga legal officer Atty. Allen Gasulas emphasized the role of the media and community in employing 4Ps (Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Partnerships) in combating trafficking in persons (TIP) in the region. This paradigm is outlined in the United Nations' (UN) TIP protocol and the United States' Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). (VLG/PIA-Caraga)


Asia-Pacific union leaders join hands to end workplace violence

BUTUAN CITY, Jul. 27 (PIA) - A total of 40 participants from 26 affiliates, including global union federations, partners, and allies in 23 countries in the Asia-Pacific converged in Manila recently as they ramped up plans for the biggest campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) within the workplace.

Said event was organized by the International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific (ITUC-AP) in collaboration with the Philippine affiliates and International Labour Organization's - Bureau for Workers' Activities (ILO-ACTRAV).

The growing interest against ‘GBV@Work’ comes as the ILO Governing Body finally decided to place a standard setting item (double discussion) on violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work starting at the 107th Session of the ILO in June 2018.

“We have been preparing for this well in advance,” said ITUC-AP General Secretary Shoya Yoshida.

 “We gather evidence to support the trade union advocacy and campaign for a comprehensive ILO convention and recommendation on ‘Violence and Harassment against Women and Men in the World of Work’ - with a strong focus on gender-based violence (including domestic violence),” Yoshida added.

The said meeting took the next step with building and preparing the Asia Pacific national focal points for campaigning around GBV@Work.

Several sessions reviewed the discussions and decisions of the ILO governing body and the meeting of experts, the ILO law and practice report, walked the participants through the international labor standards and standard setting procedures and other preparatory work.

Participants from Taiwan and Mongolia shared the importance of strengthening the evidence based on domestic violence and its impact at work and using the national survey findings to improve protection of women.

The meeting also showcased participants’ experiences and suggestions in increasing women’s representation in the ILC. Participants gained insights from the sharing of the Philippine tripartite partners on building a unified position on the adoption and ratification of Convention 189 and labor law reforms and implementation.

The meeting concluded with identifying immediate and priority advocacy campaign plans and strategies for the ILC discussions and generated strong commitment from affiliates on actions to address GBV@Work. (FEA/ITUC-AP/PIA-Caraga)


POPCOM launches short films on youth

By Angie Balen-Antonio

BUTUAN CITY, July 27 - As getting young people on-board on its continuing campaign against teenage pregnancy and other related concerns, the Commission on Population (POPCOM) launches its Adolescent Health and Development Film Festival for three straight years.

For this year, the film production is anchored on the regional paper of Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Further Study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute entitled “Maternal Health-Seeking Behaviors of Teen and Young Adults Mother in Caraga Region.”

The project is also closely coordinated with the Department of Education in promoting and creating awareness on various adolescent and youth issues and concerns, particularly in the prevention of unintended pregnancy, STI, and HIV/AIDS infections.

As aimed by POPCOM, the films which shall be developed by junior high school students will provide the young people with appropriate information and life skills to enable them to cope with problems related to the attainment of their full development into adulthood.

The two short films which were produced by Caraga Region for the national competition are now used in various advocacy activities of POPCOM, Local Government Units and other stakeholders, Desisyon (2015) and Dibuho (2016).

POPCOM disclosed that the participating teams who represent their respective city and province are expected to develop and produce and audio-visual material, a short film with a maximum running time of 15 minutes including credits and disclaimer, and also a two-minute film version and a 1-minute trailer.

Regional winners will receive a cash prize, trophy and medal and a chance to compete at the national film festival, and international as well.

Prior to the film production, the participating teams participated to the basic film making workshop, as a prerequisite to join the Regional Adolescent Health and Development Film Festival. (POPCOM-Caraga/PIA-Caraga)