Hundreds of people from the different sectors who are dedicated to the fight against human trafficking gathered at the Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City for the celebration of World Day Against Human Trafficking last Saturday.
People from the academe, Philippine National Police, International Justice Mission, Department of Social Welfare and Development in Central Visayas, social welfare offices of Talisay City, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova town, women and youth groups, and nongovernment organizations were among the participants.
The activity was aimed at empowering the participants against human trafficking by making them aware of the laws penalizing the perpetrators and laws protecting the rights of everyone, especially the women and children, who are vulnerable to exploitation and abuses.
In her welcome address, Mayor Paz Radaza expressed alarm over the existence of human trafficking, cyberpornography and abuse of women and children in Cebu province.
She said that in Lapu-Lapu City, they initiated the Youth Congress because they recognize the indispensable roles of the children and youths toward progress.
“It is just ironic that while we are nurturing and empowering them to be our partners in change, they are the ones vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking,” she said.
“Human trafficking has penetrated our society at an alarming rate,” said Radaza.
Radaza said there were reports about the presence of sex tourism in Cebu province, and people should be watchful about this. “The welfare of our children should be our topmost priority,” she said.
Radaza said that despite investments that keep pouring in the city, this would be useless if the future of the children, especially those who have less in life, will be put in danger.
She said it is very disappointing to note that cases of human trafficking have plagued the province.
“Our gathering this afternoon will be a good venue in creating awareness among ourselves about the situation of the victims of trafficking,” she said.
We will be exchanging inputs on how we can help them, on how they shall be reintegrated back into their families and communities.
“In most cases, poverty pushes our people to engage in human exploitation,” the mayor explained.
Thus, she said the people must be provided with an alternative livelihood so they will not to engage in human trafficking, and have a decent living.
“We must educate and empower them. Hand-in-hand, I know we can make everyone safe and secure, away from harm and danger. We can gather our resources and expertise together and come up with better solutions to problems and speed up the implementation of various programs in combating human trafficking,” said Radaza.