Celso cites multi-level cooperation In fight against human trafficking PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 September 2011 17:19

Mayor Celso Lobregat has underscored the need for multi-level cooperation in the fight against human trafficking even as he lauded the active movement and firm resolve of anti-trafficking task forces nationwide to put a stop to the growing menace of human trafficking.

Addressing participants to the Exchange Program for Anti-Trafficking Task Forces from all over the country, Mayor Lobregat said cooperation and coordination between and among the different agencies, anti-trafficking groups and local government units will spell a difference in the campaign against trafficking in persons.

Zamboanga City’s efforts, the mayor declared are not only confined within the city’s boundaries but extend beyond Zamboanga, according to the chief executive, who under the law chairs the Zamboanga Inter-agency Committee on anti-trafficking (IACAT). “Oftentimes, we send policemen and IACAT members to track down on suspects and or to rescue and assist victims whenever anti-trafficking crimes are reported in any part of the country or the globe.”.

Anti-trafficking groups consists of the policy and the law enforcement aspects, thus, requires the support and cooperation of all levels of government and NGOs and even private individuals specifically the victims in order to succeed in the campaign, he stressed.

The Exchange Program for Anti-Trafficking Task Forces being held at the La Vista del Mar from Sept. 14-16, is organized by the Visayan Forum Foundation in partnership with the Zamboanga Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force (SBATTF) under Prosecutor Darlene Pajarito and with support from the USAID. Among the participants are prosecutors, law enforcers, social workers and other anti-trafficking champions from Manila, Angeles, Surigao, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Davao, Cebu, Tawi-tawi and Zamboanga City.

The event is also graced by Alistair Baskey, Philippine Desk Officer in Washington, USA and Matthew Fullerton of the Public Affairs Office, US Embassy.

Zamboanga has been chosen as the venue for the three-day gathering in view of its good governance practices in the anti-trafficking drive. It has the distinction of having the first conviction under the Anti-Trafficking law that saved the country from being downgraded further from Tier 2 watch list ranking in 2005. Zamboanga holds the highest number of convictions in the country, now at 6.

Zamboanga Prosecutor Pajarito, who was recently cited by the US State Department as one of the world’s 10 heroes in the fight against trafficking; Manila Prosecutor Jedrik Ng of IACAT-Department of Justice and Alex Pacis, Visayan Forum Foundation Deputy Executive Director are spearheading the conduct of the seminar.

After the opening program yesterday morning, the group paid a courtesy visit on the mayor in City Hall and the Department of Justice and visited the DSWD Processing Center for Displaced Persons and Social Development Center.

Today, the participants will have an orientation about SBATTF operations, PPA-VF port halfway house, Overseas Passengers’ Assistance Center (OPAC) helpdesk, visit at the VF-PPA port Halfway house and assessment of learning and planning session.  Tomorrow the participants will undergo training on prosecution with local partners before wrapping up the 3-day gathering. — Sheila Covarrubias