HUMAN trafficking remains a serious problem that needs to be addressed in the Philippines.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has set February 5, 2023 as the National Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.
The CBCP said it made the declaration upon the request of the CBCP Cluster Against Human Trafficking (CCAHT), which sought to strengthen the Church’s campaign against modern-day slavery.
The CCAHT was formed in 2017 to facilitate cooperation between the different CBCP Commissions to address human trafficking. It is led by the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI).
ECMI executive secretary Fr. Roger Manalo said there was a need for “more rigorous efforts” to combat human trafficking.
The church in the Philippines observes February 8 as the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of human trafficking and slavery victims.
But the CCAHT said there was a need for a separate national day of prayer as this “can have a more meaningful impact in terms of information and mainstreaming too the parishes in general.”
He said he would ask the CBCP to make the National Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking a yearly observance every first Sunday of February.
The CCAHT will conduct its main activity for the national day of prayer next year at the EDSA Shrine in Quezon City.
The CBCP is part of the Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking.
Human trafficking situation in the PH
The US State Department’s 2022 Trafficking in person Report on the Philippines said the government had identified 1,802 victims of trafficking compared with 1,534 potential victims identified in the previous reporting period.
Of the 1,802 victims, traffickers exploited 535 in sex related activities, 501 in forced labor, and 766 in unspecified exploitations.
Concerns have been raised about the rise in cases of online sexual exploitation of children.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children, Mama Fatima Singhateh, said earlier this month that the Philippines remains a source and destination country for child trafficking, sale, sexual abuse, and forced marriage, among others.
Singhateh acknowledged the Philippines’ efforts to improve policies and measures to protect children against sexual abuse and exploitation, but also said more need to be done.
republicasia earlier published a series of reports on the proliferation of explicit sexual content on social media and the risks this poses for children, who could be subjected to online sexual exploitation and abuse.