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Monday, April 17, 2023

RIACAT-VAWC Caraga levels up fight for women, children

The members of the Regional Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking and Violence Against Women and their Children (RIACAT-VAWC) Caraga are the solid pillars in the fight against trafficking in persons (TIPs), violence against women and their children (VAWC), child pornography, and gender-based violence in the region.

Despite the hectic schedule of the members from various government agencies, local government units, and civil society organizations, they all took time to discuss relevant matters in time for the conduct of the Sunset Review and Strategic Planning for Calendar Year 2023-2027 held on April 23 to 24, 2023 at Spacebar Beach Resort, Cagwait, Surigao del Sur.

This is an annual activity of the committee not only to step up its efforts and initiatives in their advocacy campaign, but their way of rebuilding relationships within and among the member-agencies, and camaraderie of the focal persons.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) chairs the RIACAT-VAWC and leads the member agencies in threshing out issues and concerns in the region to come up with plans and activities, and assess the actual performance of the committee as per key result areas (KRAs).

According to Jessie Catherine Aranas, chief of Protective Services Division of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Caraga and focal person for RIACAT-VAWC, as they plan for the next five-year activities, they are bound to achieve the following objectives: 1) Institutionalize prevention mechanism in local government units in a form of ordinances and resolutions; 2) Intensify advocacy on TIP, VAWC, Anti-Child Pornography in the communities and schools; and 3) Capacitate the RIACAT-VAWC on new policies, laws on TIP, VAWC, ACP, and other child and women protection laws.

“The RIACAT-VAWC as the regional committee to oversee and monitor the implementation of the three special laws, namely, Republic Act 9208 as amended by Republic Act 10364, Republic Act 9775 and Republic Act 9262, came up with the Regional Strategic Plan for 2023-2027 carrying out some identified issues, targets and strategies, programs, projects and activities from the previous plans with the same KRAs, to wit, KRA 1: Advocacy and Prevention; KRA 2: Protection, Recovery and Reintegration; KRA 3: Prosecution and Law Enforcement; and KRA 4: Partnership and Networking,” bared Aranas. 

Aranas highlighted that this activity also strengthens the relationship between agencies in ensuring the delivery of services and creating new initiatives and good practices in responding and solving issues on trafficking, VAWC, and child pornography.

Clementino Rabor, assistant regional prosecutor - Task Force Head of the Department of Justice - Regional Anti-Trafficking Task Force Caraga (DOJ-RATTF13), also stressed that the RIACAT-VAWC Caraga plays a vital role in the implementation of the laws that promote and protect the different sectors against trafficking in persons, VAWC, child pornography, and gender-based violence. 

"Let us review our respective agency's roles and responsibilities in the committee as stipulated in Section 11 of Republic Act 11862," he said.

Prosecutor Rabor further urged all the members to take their functions and responsibilities seriously as safety and security of the vulnerable sectors lie on their hands especially during rescue operations and case proceedings. “Let’s continue to fight all these forms of violations on human rights. We may encounter different challenges along the way, but we shall fight without ceasing. We shall work in unity and serve the people of Caraga,” he underscored.

Bringing the name of their respective agency and their mandates, all the focal persons actively took part in the planning process and thoroughly discussed how their agencies could better address the issues and concerns by plotting out doable and manageable activities per KRA identified.

In general, the RIACAT-VAWC envisions to have a collaborative partnership not only with its member agencies but also with other stakeholders inside and outside the region in combating TIPs, VAWC, ACP, GBV, and all forms of violence through a functional and strengthened LCAT-VAWC in the local government units, capacitated CSOs, and a strengthened referral of network that connects resources and services to target clientele.

The Philippine Information Agency Caraga

As an active member of RIACAT-VAWC, the PIA Caraga headed by Regional Director Venus Garcia, expressed commitment to maximize the use of its known platforms in the information dissemination efforts and advocacy of the committee on TIP, VAWC, ACP to the grassroots.

PIA ensures that while other member agencies fulfill their roles and functions from KRA 1 to KRA 4, all the efforts are publicly known and such are worth emulating. 

As the government’s information arm, it has been known that the PIA’s aim is to disseminate information about government programs, projects, and services to the public, with the final goal of improving the quality of life of the Filipinos, thus empowering them to participate in the country’s democratic process. (JPG/PIA-Caraga)