ARMM intensifies anti-human trafficking efforts PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 03 November 2013 13:54

Poverty and underdevelopment are the main factors that condone human trafficking in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), officials said.

Laisa Alamia, regional executive secretary, said line agencies of the autonomous region, the Department of Justice, and the United Nations Children’s Fund will now address the problem through the ARMM Council Against Trafficking (ACAT).

Representatives of member-agencies of ACAT held Wednesday in Cotabato City  a regional Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Situation Forum to hasten the efforts of curbing human trafficking in the autonomous region.

Illiteracy has also been blamed for much of the human trafficking problems in the region, which groups Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Alamia said poverty caused by recurring armed conflicts and calamities in some parts of the autonomous region has also been creating immediate employment needs for local residents, exposing them to syndicated human traffickers.

Studies also showed that the proximity of the ARMM’s Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi (Basulta) area to Malaysia makes TIP a lucrative trade for syndicates operating on the pretext of providing foreign employment to recruits via the country’s “southern backdoor.”

Alamia said promises of good jobs and other opportunities abroad or in provinces just outside of ARMM make parents of minors agree easily to spurious job placement schemes.

Maguindanao province has the most number of recorded TIP cases in the past three years, according to documents obtained from the ARMM’s social welfare department.

The agency has recorded 27 victims of TIP in 2009, 24 victims in 2010, 133 victims in 2011, and 49 more victims in 2012.

There were four human trafficking cases in Sulu, 12 in Basilan, and one documented case in Tawi-Tawi last year.

Alamia said ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, chairman of the regional provincial peace and order council, had ordered the autonomous region’s police office to help the ACAT carry out its anti-TIP activities in the region.

Alamia said the Hataman administration is trying to address the TIP problem in the autonomous region through a “convergence approach” involving regional line agencies, the local civil society organizations, the DOJ, foreign humanitarian outfits, and the local government units in all of the ARMM’s five provinces.