UNICEF cites Zambo’s gains in anti-human trafficking drive PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 13 May 2011 15:05

Vanessa Tobin, country representative of the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), has considered as magnificent breakthroughs Zamboanga City’s gains in its advocacy against human trafficking.
“I am very impressed by what you have presented and to me the most impressive of all is the fact that you ventured on not just sex trafficking but also on labor trafficking,” Tobin told Mayor Celso Lobregat after the latter presented facts and figures on the city’s gains in its anti-human trafficking campaign during a meeting yesterday morning in City Hall with House Deputy Speaker and District 1 Representative Beng Climaco-Salazar.

“Zamboanga City is making the hypes especially in the conviction of human traffickers. This is really incredible, a great breakthrough. You are very courageous as well and I thank you for your very successful endeavors,” Tobin said as she also vowed that UNICEF will be helping Zamboanga in its advocacy on human trafficking in persons.

She said UNICEF has already established an office in Mindanao, particularly in Cotabato City, and it will be intensifying is country programs on sanitation, education and protection of children against violence and abuses, among others. “We found out that Zamboanga City is leading in this campaign incredibly.”

Early on, Lobregat reported that in 2005 he had an executive order creating the Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking (IACAT) in Persons in Zamboanga City. The committee was later expanded to include Violence Against Women and Children, thus called IACAT-VAWC.

Lobregat said Zamboanga has distinguished itself as the first city in the country to have convicted a human trafficker under Republic Act 9208, otherwise known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

“This landmark decision in 2005 was followed by two more convictions in 2007 and 2008,” Lobregat reported, adding that the fourth conviction came in August 2010 involving a syndicate where the accused was sent to life imprisonment and ordered to pay P2 million in fines.

On February 8, this year, he said the city got its 5th conviction, but the first for labor trafficking in the country, where the accused was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment with P1 million fines.
To date, the Philippines has recorded over 20 convictions on human trafficking cases, of which Zamboanga City accounts for five convictions.

“This is a testimony of our serious pursuit against traffickers in the country,” the chief executive said even as he vowed that the city government will continue to initiate strategies to stamp out the menace.

.“We will continue to partner and collaborate with other agencies to strengthen defenses against this despicable crime. We will only succeed in this undertaking if we join hands with all stakeholders and work together for a common goal,” Lobregat concluded. — Vic Larato