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Human trafficking becomes rife in Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

There is still much chaos and uncertainty one month after Typhoon Haiyan battered the Philippines. The super storm left 1.9 million people homeless and nearly 6,000 dead. An even more insidious problem has risen to the fore and many people there become increasingly desperate: human trafficking.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The mass devastation brought by the typhoon coupled with the resulting "chaotic environment" make potential victims "extremely vulnerable," according to Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo. He is the convenor of the Philippines' Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking.

There have been scattered reports that foreigners are already starting to recruit women from disaster areas, Raymond Jonathan Lledo, head of the government's National Inter-Agency Task Force Against Trafficking says.

The Philippines has long been identified as a source country for trafficking. Filipinos routinely go overseas for job opportunities only to be trapped in a nightmare of sex trafficking and forced labor.

The 2013 U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report noted that human trafficking within the country also "remains a significant problem." Victims are frequently trafficked from rural areas to urban centers.

"Now, more than ever, Filipinos need to rise up and protect those who would be exploited within their borders," Pabillo told reporters.

Various church groups say they will hold a "prayer rally" in Manila this week to raise awareness about human trafficking.

"If they are becoming bold in committing this modern-day slavery, we have to be much bolder in fighting it," a joint statement issued by Catholic and Protestant Churches in the Philippines said.

"As a Church, we cannot just sit idly by while cases of human trafficking are piling up year after year," the statement said.

"Even before Haiyan, the provinces of Leyte and Samar were identified as trafficking hotspots. Women and girls would be trafficked to Manila or abroad for domestic work," Devanna De La Puente, the co-ordinator of the gender-based violence sub-cluster for the Haiyan Relief Effort says.

The latest US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report states there were 227 trafficking cases filed with the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2012, but many more incidents go unreported.



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