Representatives from the Philippine embassies and consulates general in the Americas committed to provide enhanced protection to Filipinos who are vulnerable to or have been victimized by human trafficking. This pledge was made at the closing of the second Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Regional Workshop on Anti-Trafficking in Persons for Foreign Service Posts (FSPs), in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The regional workshop, which was held from Sept. 22 to 26, in Mexico City, was aimed at improving the institutional capacity of the FSPs in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico and the United States to assist Filipinos who are victims of or vulnerable to human trafficking.
“We will never be passive bystanders. We will fight human trafficking with all of our abilities,” the participants pledged. “We will enhance protection to persons vulnerable to being trafficked. We will assist victims and ensure their full reintegration to society,” the participants promised.
The workshop modules discussed the basic concept of trafficking in persons (TIP), the international and Philippine legal frameworks in combating human trafficking, proper victim identification and protection, the national referral system, available aid to victims, case management, psycho-social counseling, caring for the service providers, and the link between gender and trafficking.
The participants benefited from the experiences and insights of experts, including resource persons from the UNODC, namely: Regional Adviser Felipe De La Torre, International Cooperation Regional Officer Mariana Alegret, Technical and Logistical Assistant Nayely Sánchez, Project Assistant Ian Hrovatin and Consultant Yuriria Álvarez.
Speakers from the Philippines include Senior State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo from the Department of Justice; Directors Margarita Sampang and Dulfie Shalim from the Department of Social Welfare and Development; Labor Attaché Angel Borja, Jr. from the Department of Labor and Employment; Executive Director Reynaldo Catapang and Atty. Joel Peralta from the Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) and Angella Gilberto Alfafara from the DFA-Office for the United Nations and Other International Organizations. POEA Director Robert Larga was likewise a resource speaker.
Each participating embassy and consulate general presented a snapshot of the human trafficking situation in their host countries, highlighting the challenges and best practices in combating TIP.
Director Sandra Patricia Mendoza from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared her country’s experiences in promoting the welfare of Mexican nationals in other countries. She emphasized the importance of raising the awareness of overseas Mexican communities of their rights, forging partnerships with local authorities and community organizations, and training consular and diplomatic personnel.
The Regional Workshop was spearheaded by DFA-OUMWA, headed by Usec. Jesus I. Yabes, and the Philippine Embassy in Mexico, led by Amb. Catalino Dilem, Jr.
In 2013, the DFA assisted 2,947 Filipino victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment. Of this number, 2,201 came from the Middle East and Africa, 432 from the Americas, 298 from Asia and the Pacific and 16 from Europe.