Celso shares anti-trafficking innovations to int’l groups PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 16:12

Considered to be at the forefront of the war against trafficking, Mayor Celso Lobregat has been invited to share Zamboanga’s innovations in the anti-trafficking efforts before members of the national and international community during an event dubbed Commitment Day against Trafficking held in Manila, Tuesday, March 15.

Organized by the Visayan Forum Foundation Inc. and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Commitment Day against Trafficking brought together in one venue, some 200 leaders of corporations, local government champions and supporters from faith-based organizations, civic groups, and the academe, heads of government agencies and the diplomatic community to dramatize commitment to pursue the fight against human trafficking, now considered a global threat.

Mayor Lobregat shared the stage with Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo in the forum “Innovations in Governance”.  He was the only local chief executive from all over the country invited to share insights, practices and experiences in the advocacy against trafficking in humans.
Visayan Forum Foundation President Cecille Flores-Oebanda cited Zamboanga City as a pioneer in terms of anti-trafficking. “It is a classic case of unique downward accountability involving local agencies and task forces in seaports and airports.

She said local executives inspire and enable front liners and stakeholders to innovate solutions in law enforcement and advocacy.

Zamboanga City, under the leadership of Mayor Lobregat has scored the first conviction using Republic Act 9208 otherwise known as the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. It is also the first local government unit that scored the first convicting in trafficking in labor recently.
In his presentation, Mayor Lobregat cited the close coordination between the city’s Inter-Agency Committee against Trafficking (IACAT) and the non-government such as the Visayan Forum Foundation and other groups.

“From January to December 2010, the Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force in partnership with IACT has assisted a total of 4,664 victims and would be victims of trafficking in persons while the Women’s Desk of the Zamboanga City Police Office has recorded a total of 13 cases of trafficking and illegal recruitment from January to March 2011 with 4 rescue operations conducted.

Mayor Lobregat said the latest rescue operation was recorded just 6 days ago (March 9) involving 5 victims who were promised jobs in Malaysia and later Lebanon even without documents. The suspect, who was apprehended by operatives from the Women Desk of the City Police, has been committed to the City Reformatory Center following the filing of formal charges in Court.

“Our efforts are not only confined within the city’s boundaries but we go beyond Zamboanga. 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”, the mayor said.

Lobregat’s presentation was well applauded because of the numerous strides achieved in the continuous crusade against human trafficking.

Themed “Mobilizing Private Sector Commitments and Innovations Towards Lasting Solutions to Trafficking of Filipino”, the Commitment Day event, held at the Crowne Plaza in Ortigas Avenue, was keynoted by Vice President Jejomas Binay and graced by American Ambassador Harry Thomas, United Kingdom of England and Great Britain Ambassador Stephen Lillie, Australian Ambassador  Rod Smith and Netherlands Embassy Charge d’Affaires Ruth Emmerink.

Accompanying Mayor Lobregat during the event was City Social Welfare Officer Francisco Barredo. — Sheila Covarrubias