VFFI anti-trafficking work featured on CNN PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 04 June 2013 10:41

The Philippine’s fight against human trafficking is getting well-deserved coverage and attention. Featuring the Vizayan Forum Foundation, Incorporated (VFFI), international media giant Cable News Network (CNN) has featured the organization’s achievements and continuing battle against human trafficking with a documentary entitled, “The Fighters.”

Featured on CNN on May 17 and 18, the two-part documentary has a runtime of two hours, and follows the anti-trafficking efforts and success of Ms. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda. Part of the video feature documents how Oebanda sought for collaboration with international boxi ng star Manny Pacquiao, to join her in the cause. “The Fighters” is considered to represent the very core of the CNN Freedom Project, as it aims to “shine a spotlight into the darkness of human trafficking and to champion those who have dedicated their lives to ending it,” according to Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director for CNN International.

The VFFI is working with the Ateneo de Zamboanga University’s (ADZU) SACSI office for the documentary’s second film showing, this time focusing on catering to the local audience that involves its partners in the Sea Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force (SBATTF), ADZU students, and other partners. The tentative date for the local screening of “The Fighters” is set on June 19, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.

“The Fighters” follows a two-year CNN investigation in the anti-trafficking work by Oebanda, who is considered the Philippines’ pioneer fighter against human trafficking. Statistics reveal that there are 100,000 children working in the Philippine sex trade, and the Visayan Forum has helped more than 70,000 victims or potential victims. The documentary also tackles the recent controversy of fraud allegations leveled against Oebanda and the VFFI.

Fortunately, the VFFI stands strong in the face of such challenges, and continues to be a significant leader in the battle against human trafficking, especially in Zamboanga City. According to VFFI Social Worker Jacqueling Repana, 677 victims and potential victims of human trafficking were processed and housed by the VFFI in 2012, while 48 individuals were rescued this year, covering the period of January to May.

The operation of the Bahay Silungan sa Daungan (BSD), or PPA halfway house, has been cited as one of the International Best Practices in the fight against human trafficking. Located at Corcuera Extension fronting the City Auditor’s office, Zamboanga’s BSD was inaugurated in 2008 by U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney herself. The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) finances the construction of halfway houses culled from its corporate funds, VFFI’s partner agency, USAID, finances its management and operation. As part of its corporate social responsibility, the Philippine Ports Authority has been working on the Bahay Silungan sa Daungan project since 1996, prompted by the numerous cases of stranded passengers in ports who have become victims of exploitation.

It is only proper then, that “The Fighters,” be given screening time for VFFI’s local partners, especially since this lauded film allows audiences to take a unique glimpse into the world of combating human trafficking, and to celebrate the heroism of people who risk their lives so that victims may live theirs in freedom.  — Karen Kay O. Rivero/PPA PIO-Designate