Victims of trafficking extend gratitude for the services received from the National and Local Government Units after they are rescued.
Department of Social Welfare and Development 9 (DSWD 9) recorded 158 rescued victims of human trafficking including walk-in clients in Zamboanga Peninsula (ZemPen) as of July 2022 which is lower than the previous years.
The Regional Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons continuously aims to stop trafficking in ZamPen through recovery and reintegration programs. Victims rescued are provided with psychosocial, legal, social welfare, shelter and financial assistance with the efforts of the inter-agencies.
Since Zamboanga City is known as the entry and exit point of human traffickers, most of the cases are reported here. Traffickers take advantage of the vulnerable sectors such as the Indigenous Peoples or the poor communities.
Stephanie Carredo, Social Welfare Officer of DSWD 9 emphasized that one of the factors leading to trafficking is the Filipino value system with strong family ties. Carredo explained that most of the victims are breadwinners who are pressured to provide the needs of their families, which leads them to look for easier and faster way to get a job and earn.
However, issues on poverty and unemployment in ZamPen are still part of the reasons of trafficking, “It is important for us to know these reasons to also identify how to address the continuous illegal recruitment and trafficking,” Carredo added.
Through identifying the needs of the victims and the IP community, the council composes of different government agencies that provides support to them by giving livelihood programs and free skills training.
Rojelyn Dela Cruz, trafficking survivor, relates her experience abroad with illegal recruitment process. She said she was not paid enough as what was promised by her recruiter and there was a time where she was not given food for three weeks and only had water as her source of survival.
After being rescued, Dela Cruz was given a livelihood support to start her own business, she advises everyone to go to the legitimate agencies if they want to work abroad so that they will not experience what she went through.
Further, the council are now focusing in the information campaign to the IP community as there are reports of cases from their community, making them as vulnerable sector.
“The government is here to promote anti-human trafficking and we appeal to all to be conscious in applying work abroad and pass through the legitimate process,” Carredo said.
Victims are still protected with the Republic Act 11862 that strengthens the policies on anti-trafficking in persons, providing penalties for its violations, and appropriating funds therefore.
The observation of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in ZamPen last July 29 with the theme “Use and abuse of technology”, emphasized the impact of technology and internet in human trafficking. (RVC/MLE/PIA9-Zamboanga City)