Cebu News

US envoy hails PH for trafficking work

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim has congratulated the Philippines for maintaining the Tier 1 ranking for the fourth consecutive time for its efforts to combat against human trafficking.

"The report acknowledges your government’s strong commitment to addressing this problem," said the ambassador, who was the keynote speaker in yesterday's Visayas launching of Strengthening Local Systems and Partnerships for more effective and Sustainable Counter-Trafficking in Persons in the Philippines (STRENGTH-CTIP).

Tier I rating means the government has fully met the Trafficking Victims Protection Act's (TVPA) minimum standards.

The ambassador said the launching of the event re-affirm our commitment to end modern day slavery.

"This is a three-year, more than P150 million ($3 million) project through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that will strengthen local mechanisms for more sustainable and effective counter-trafficking in persons in the Philippines," he said.

He added that working together with the Partnership for Development Assistance in the Philippines, the U.S. and the Philippine governments will support the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking, its counterpart councils at the local level, civil society organizations, and the private sector, in providing interventions across the four counter-trafficking strategy pillars – prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships.

He said that the U.S. government is among the largest donors in combating trafficking-in-persons worldwide.

This month, he said, the United States commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which brought the full power and attention of their government to bear in confronting global trafficking.

He said that it also created the annual congressionally-mandated Trafficking in Persons report, which serves as a call to action for governments around the world to better understand the trafficking within their countries and use best practices eradicate this global scourge.

"While significant progress has been made, there is still much that needs to be done.  Men, women and children continue to fall prey to traffickers and illegal recruiters all over the world," he said.

In the Philippines, he said many individuals leave their homes in the hopes of a brighter future for themselves and their families back at home.  The work that they find is often legitimate, safe, and secure, but sometimes it is not.

He said that the root causes of trafficking-in-persons are linked to development challenges that the USAID addresses every day.

"Through our programs we partner with our friends and allies to strengthen their education and employment opportunities, social safety nets, the rule of law, and foster an environment of tolerance between communities," the ambassador said.

USAID’s Strength CTIP activity complements the ongoing assistance provided by the U.S. Department of State and the Philippines Government’s Child Protection Compact Partnership as well as with the State Department’s Program to End Modern Slavery project.

"Altogether, our assistance through these three programs totals almost P510 million (more than $10 million) to combat trafficking in the Philippines," he said.

In addition to government action, civil society and the private sector also play a critical role in addressing trafficking in persons.

"I am pleased to note that the Philippines has proactive civil society working on this important issue," he said.

Here in Cebu, the ambassador said that he is glad to hear about the partnership among the three civil society organizations, namely, Children’s Legal Bureau, Bidlisiw Foundation, Inc. and the Fellowship for Organizing Endeavors, that work together to achieve results in protection, prosecution and prevention.

He added that private businesses are now, more than ever, engaged in the fight against human trafficking.

"I encourage our business partners here today to take a look and find ways to prevent your supply chains from indirectly supporting traffickers.  Strong partnerships among stakeholders are critical to achieve results in the areas of protection, prosecution and prevention. I have confidence in these powerful forces that work together to protect and save lives. Let us all re-affirm our commitment to support efforts to end modern slavery in the Philippines," the ambassador added. (FREEMAN)

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