Press Release
December 22, 2012

Legarda Alarmed Over Reports of Human
Traffickers in Mindanao's Devastated Communities

Senator Loren Legarda expressed extreme alarm over reports of human traffickers prowling Mindanao's devastated communities in the wake of Typhoon Pablo, and urged local government officials and citizens alike to remain vigilant.

"I have always emphasized that disasters are linked inextricably to poverty and socio-economic inequality. It is important to realize that the changing climate will have its worst effects on the poorest of the poor, and nowhere is this clearer than in these reports of human traffickers prowling Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental. Men, women and children from marginalized and devastated communities are at high risk, and we must do everything in our power to stop these illegal operations once and for all," she said.

Legarda, Chair of the Sub-Committee on Anti-Trafficking and sponsor of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, was reacting to a report that human traffickers are looking for potential victims among the survivors of Typhoon Pablo in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

"The problem of human trafficking continues to hound our society, and this will only become more pronounced as our people are left vulnerable due to disasters. We are now seeing the intersecting forces of natural hazards and human greed, and how they threaten those who are already marginalized. This is an issue of utmost importance," she said.

"We have seen the need to strengthen the existing law, and we have acted swiftly on it. But human trafficking, and the related problems of the illegal sex trade, forced labor, and other forms of slavery, is a complex web. Battling it requires concerted effort from all sectors of society," she added.

"Remember that traffickers target the most vulnerable sectors of society and this is the injustice that we must act against. Those responsible must be caught and subjected to our criminal laws. Furthermore, we also look forward to the immediate enactment of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act," Legarda stressed.

The proposed measure is a strengthened version of the anti-trafficking law as it covers attempted trafficking and accessory or accomplice liability, among other salient features, thereby covering more individuals.

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