Press Release
March 17, 2009


Senator Bong Revilla expressed alarm against the impending rise of illegal recruitment and human trafficking cases, as displaced workers and fresh graduates desperately seek employment in the face of the global financial crisis, which is causing increased joblessness.

According to the senator, illegal recruiters and human trafficking syndicates will certainly take advantage of the rising number of jobseekers resulting from the recent displacement of workers and the coming graduation of college students.

"Our displaced workers, driven by desperation to work again, and our half a million graduating college students who are enthusiastic to finally pursue their profession, are potential victims of estafa, white slavery and forced labor. It is open season for these syndicates who even in a single encounter can convince their prospects of high-earning jobs, locally or overseas," Revilla warned.

Revilla cited the report of Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), the news and analysis arm the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, that there are growing concerns among law enforcement groups, labor leaders and social workers in the Philippines that the unemployed may become increasing desperate, making them vulnerable to human traffickers.

The IRIN report said about 42,000 people have lost their jobs in the country since the financial meltdown began, mostly women working in the export sector. Women account for 80 percent of the workers in export processing zones and this does not include the contractual workers who have no security benefits.

"Women are the major victims of human trafficking whether domestically or abroad. There must be substantial creation of jobs for them. This is a way of not only fighting human trafficking but also a way of alleviating poverty and boosting women empowerment," said Revilla, who earlier pushed his bill that seeks to expand the prohibited acts of discrimination against women workers anew.

The lawmaker urged Malacanang to create an inter-agency task force composed of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) that will conduct an information drive against illegal recruitment and human trafficking in the all barangays.

"Alongside job creation, our national government must intensify efforts to disseminate awareness against illegal recruitment and human trafficking in our barangays, especially in far-flung areas, where these syndicates usually look for would-be-victims. A similar awareness program must also be conducted in universities and colleges for our fresh graduates," Revilla proposed.

The National Bureau of Organization (NBI) recorded 122 human trafficking cases in 2007 and 130 cases in 2008. DSWD said it assisted only 6,000 cases human trafficking cases since 2003. There is no official government data on trafficking but non-government organization Visayan Forum said it had assisted 32,000 people since 2003, when RA 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act was made law. So far, there are only 12 convictions, representing only 2 percent of the total 573 cases filed by the DOJ.

"I believe the figures are bigger and other victims chose not to file a complaint because of embarrassment and the slow pace of cases. And there many others, waiting to be saved," Revilla added.

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