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Child Trafficking Cases on the Rise in The Philippines

April 04, 2007

The government should exert more effort in combating child trafficking cases as it continues to rise every year.

For 2006, there are only ten convictions relative to child trafficking cases. Regina Florendo of the Asia Against Child Trafficking (Asia ACTs) said the ten convictions come from the different parts of the country.

Florendo was in the city yesterday (Tuesday) for the 3rd Annual Commemoration of the International Day Against Trafficking hosted by the Regional Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (RIACAT) 6. She is also the coordinator of the Philippine Against Child Trafficking (PACT) which is attached to the Asia ACTs.

Asia ACTs is part of the International Campaign against Child Trafficking (ICaCT) coordinated by Terre des Hommes (TDH)-Germany and the International Federation of Terre des Hommes. They got their funding from the United Nations Children's Fund formerly United Nations International Children's Fund. TDH launched the International Campaign against Child Trafficking (IcaCT) in 2001. Its objective is to provide better protection for children and to ensure that child traffickers are prosecuted. "Child trafficking is a blatant violation of children's rights."

Through, its regional campaign, the Asia ACTs discovered that trafficking in people, especially in children is increasing because of its highly lucrative nature. It is easy to make profits in selling and exploiting children because children can be sold several times, unlike drugs or weapons.  An Asia ACT's report showed that a "trafficked child is a chattel to be used, exploited or sold." Even infants are in demand by illegal adoption rings like those operating in Vietnam and the Philippines. Girls are trafficked for marriage, and later forced into prostitution, like those girls from Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The same Asia ACTs report said "rural children are trafficked to the cities to become factory workers, construction workers, domestic servants, prostitutes, beggars, drug couriers or drug sellers. Children may leave their respective countries willingly or unwillingly through cross-border trafficking." Luckily, Iloilo City is not one of the areas where cases of child trafficking cases thrive.

Child trafficking cases are imminent in Cebu, Zamboanga del Sur and Bukidnon. Child trafficking case is a "continuing crime, " said Florendo. She added child trafficking cases will happen as long as people lacks the awareness about the crime. It is not only young children who are victims of child trafficking but adults too. There are two types of trafficking, large scale and qualified trafficking.

In an interview, Florendo said they have encountered cases where the victims are more than 18 years old yet most of the victims are children. And not one of these rescued individuals came from poor family. There are individuals who are lured because of the juicy promises of the recruiters. The conviction for trafficking involving children is much easier than to convict traffickers of adult. There is nothing to prove if the victims is a child. However, in cases where the victims are adult, the prosecution should present evidences how the victims are "exploited, " said Florendo.

She added that they have also encountered "cross-border cases," where children from the different places are transferred from one place to another. Recently, they have pinpointed several areas in the Philippines where victims of child trafficking came and rescued. Based on the Asia ACT records, children from Davao where rescued in Iriga City; children from Quezon City where rescued in Singapore; children from Tarlac where rescued in Malaysia; children from Zamboanga del Sur were rescued either in Manila or Nueva Ecija and children from Camarines Norte were rescued in either Bulacan or Pampanga.

Child trafficking situation in the country, with more detailed information about trafficking routes, recruitment practices, characteristics of victims, profile of key actors involved, working conditions of victims and the state of anti-trafficking legislative measures is contained in a Philippine research entitled "Endangered Generation: Child Trafficking for Sexual Purposes in the Philippines."

Adapted from: Maricar M. Calubiran. "Child trafficking cases keep on rising." The News Today. 13 December 2006.

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