Tacloban, April 9, 2015 — Representatives of various U.S. government agencies at the United States Embassy in Manila came together to urge local government executives to intensify their campaign against human trafficking and protect their communities from this form of modern-day slavery during a two-day anti-trafficking summit here on April 8 and 9.
The United States Embassy in Manila, through the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and its partner, Millennium Challenge Account – Philippines (MCA-P), convened the event in partnership with the Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT). Representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, the United States Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Embassy’s Political Section joined the event as resource speakers and supporters.
“Just as the Philippines recognizes that the fight against human trafficking requires a whole-of-government approach, the participation of several U.S. government agencies at today’s event demonstrates the United States’ commitment to helping the Philippines combat human trafficking,” said Burak Inanc, Deputy Resident Country Director, MCC Philippines.
During the conference, officials from the Regional Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT), the Philippine Commission on Women, and the Council for the Welfare of Children discussed challenges in addressing human trafficking and how to strengthen referral systems to encourage communities to be more vigilant in protecting citizens against trafficking in persons (TIP) and violence against women and children.
The summit is an important component of a project that MCA-P is implementing in Samar funded under the Millenium Challenge Corporation compact with the Philippines. The project, entitled “Samar Secondary National Roads Development Project” (SNRDP) includes a TIP community awareness partnership with PACT that is being implemented alongside the main road construction component of the project. TIP mitigation initiatives under this partnership include information, education and communication campaigns against TIP and a series of community education and training sessions in SNRDP road-construction areas.
Through these community education sessions, 559 social workers, police officers, teachers, and community leaders have been trained as educators who in turn have been conducting training in their respective communities, to reach 14,000 individuals in barangays and schools on anti-trafficking laws with important information and awareness-raising about the twin issues of trafficking and violence. Over 1500 road construction workers have also been trained on TIP under the SNRD.
At the end of the summit, local executives signed a “Statement of Commitment,” pledging to actively implement anti-trafficking laws and committing themselves to passing local anti-TIP ordinances. This commitment will strengthen the efforts of cities and municipalities efforts against TIP and provide more programs and services for TIP victims.
Rachael Parrish, Embassy Human Rights Officer, said at the event, “for several years the United States has been a strong supporter of the Philippines’ efforts to fight human trafficking. As we work to improve Samar’s transportation infrastructure, we are proud to support the efforts of the regional IACAT, local government, and civil society to ensure that the people of this region have the tools and the knowledge they need to continue the fight against modern-day slavery.”