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Protect Women OFWs, Implement Anti-Trafficking Law–Loren

March 14, 2010

THE ONLY FEMALE VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, NP-NPC-LDP BET LOREN LEGARDA, CALLED ON GOVERNMENT TO FIGHT HUMAN TRAFFICKING, URGING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SEVEN-YEAR LAW SHE AUTHORED.
“This should no longer be a silent issue. Too many women and minors have been deceived by traffickers posing as legitimate recruiters. They are duped about the true nature of the work and are exploited in slavery-like conditions. They are recruited with promises of decent and high-paying jobs in foreign countries only to find themselves forced into backbreaking illegal labor or prostitution,” said Legarda, campaigning yesterday in Northern Samar.
She also called for adequate support and services for trafficked women and their families, and for civil society to cooperate in reporting cases of human trafficking to the authorities.
Tackling women’s issues in celebration of Women’s Month, Legarda recalled the story of nine Filipinas recruited as waitresses in Malaysia but were forced into prostitution and were physically abused by sexual predators. Their passports and cellphones were confiscated by their Malaysian Chinese recruiter Ng Kok Weng and his Filipina wife upon arrival. During their captivity, they were given only one meal a day.
The nine women managed to escape and sought refuge in the Philippine embassy. Legarda, who was in Malaysia at the time, urged the embassy to expedite their travel documents and exit pass. She personally sponsored their transportation back to the country.
“We cannot afford further inaction. The lives and dignity of our women are on the line. These women, forced to find work abroad because of poverty, fall prey to traffickers and inevitably become victims of rape and other forms of sexual abuse,” said Legarda.
Legarda authored RA 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, which mandates policies to eliminate and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and establishes the necessary institutional mechanisms for the protection and support of trafficked persons.
The United Nations estimated that one million to 4 million persons are trafficked worldwide each year. Trafficking generates an estimated US$ 7-12 billion in profits yearly. Trafficking in persons is now considered the third largest source of profits for organized transnational crime, next to drug trafficking and terrorism.
Of the more than 8 million overseas Filipino workers, 1.62 million are irregular migrants and are suspected to be victims of trafficking or smuggling. 65% of those victims are women, 25% of which were forced into prostitution.