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CSOs to launch anti-trafficking summits with help from Dutch Embassy, IACAT

October 10, 2014 · 

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Three civil society organizations (CSOs) will launch three regional and sectoral summits against human trafficking in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for the last quarter of this year.

These three CSOs are the Blas F. Ople Policy Center (BFOC), International Justice Mission (IJM) and the Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc. (VFFI), which represent the OFW, child, and women’s sectors in IACAT, respectively.

“The Netherlands Embassy takes great pride in having this partnership with the three NGOs at the forefront of the fight against human trafficking in the Philippines. Through this summit, we hope to bring together members of civil society, including those organizations that are working at the grassroot levels, and learn how we can all work together towards the common goal of fighting human trafficking,” Chargé d’Affaires Joop Scheffers of the Netherlands Embassy said.

The first summit which shall kick off on Aug. 28-29 at Traders’ Hotel, Pasay City focuses on how technology can help prevent and detect human trafficking, particularly among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who often fall victims of trafficking in persons and illegal recruitment.

BFOC President Susan “Toots” Ople described this first CSO summit for the migrant workers’ sector as a “fusion of technology and anti-trafficking sectors for a common good – the protection of Filipino workers from trafficking syndicates and illegal recruiters.”

An expert from the Dutch government, Arjan Verhagen, who serves as Thematic Liaison Officer of the Dutch National Police, will share his country’s experience in dealing with online child exploitation, while technology firms have been invited to showcase their products and services so that anti-trafficking advocates can see how these can be used to advance their cause.

IACAT member-agencies, such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police, will discuss their respective online-based campaigns against illegal recruitment and human trafficking. IACAT itself through the Commission on Filipinos Overseas will brief the OFW sector on its national hotline: 1343.

Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar, in-charge of IACAT, said the CSO summits once again highlight the Philippine’s relentless anti-human trafficking campaign which is anchored on a multi-sectoral approach  involving partnerships with other countries like The Netherlands, collaboration with other government agencies, and tie-ups with non-government organizations.

Technology firms, such as Viber, Microsoft, Orange Apps, and social advocacy movement, Change.Org, among others, have been invited to participate in the technology and anti-trafficking summit.

The two other summits will be hosted by IJM and VFFI on October and November 2014 in Iloilo and Davao, respectively.  IJM focuses on child trafficking while VFFI represents the women’s sector in IACAT.

In each summit, renowned experts in the field have been invited to shed light on the situation of human trafficking in the Philippines to keep advocates abreast on emerging trends and challenges.

Representatives from member-agencies of IACAT which is mandated to prevent and combat trafficking are also expected to attend the summits in order to give the participants updated reports on the national government’ program on TIP.

The summits are expected to enhance and strengthen cooperation among CSOs dedicated in preventing and combating labor, women and child trafficking not only through referrals and exchange of information on best practices, but also, in discussing future projects and possible collaboration with IACAT and the Dutch Embassy.

The Netherlands has forged a strong partnership with the Philippine government and Philippine civil society in the field of anti-human trafficking advocacy.

“Human trafficking inflicts severe and often long-lasting harm on the most vulnerable people of our societies, frequently undetected and concealed to mainstream society. Thus, partnership and cooperation should constitute an integral part of anti-trafficking policies and their implementation, both on a national and international level, to make information more accessible and services to victims and potential victims readily-available,” Scheffers added.

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ANTI-TRAFFICKING SUMMIT 2014 – H.E. Joop Scheffers, Charge d’ Affaires of the Embassy of The Netherlands (center) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for the holding of three regional and sectoral summits against trafficking in persons in a simple ceremony at the Dutch Chancery last Aug. 20.  With him were (seated from left to right) Ms. Ruth Emmerink, Deputy Head of Mission of the Dutch Embassy, and lawyer Mitch Munoz of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).  The three NGOs who signed the MOA were represented by (standing from left to right) Cecilia Flores-Oebanda of Visayan Forum Foundation Inc. (VFFI), Jerome Alcantara of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute (BFOCTI) and lawyer Samson Inocencio of International Justice Mission (IJM).

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