MANILA and Washington signed an agreement Tuesday to enhance the fight against child trafficking and abuse in the Philippines.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, chairman of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, and Chargé d’Affaires Michael Klecheski of the US Embassy in Manila, signed the Child Protection Compact, which aims to suppress online sexual exploitation of children and child labor trafficking.
Under the deal, the US Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons will provide up to $3.5 million or about P175 million in funding to non-governmental or international organizations that would combat OSEC and CLT.
The IACAT, on the other hand, will provide P40 million to fund its projects related to the program.
Under the CPC, the Philippine and US governments committed to increase the number of victims-centered investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of OSEC and CLT cases, strengthen government’s and civil society’s capacities to identify and provide comprehensive services for victims, and also strengthen existing community-based mechanisms for identifying and protecting child victims of OSEC and CLT.
Aguirre said at the signing: “The evil of human trafficking should be fought on all fronts. We should channel our collective efforts towards eradicating it.
“Anything that debases or dehumanizes the dignity of a person is an abomination that must end. Slavery and exploitation has no place in any society.
“Any act that enslaves or exploits our children magnifies the evil a hundredfold.”
“Let us not leave no stone unturned in our avowed purpose to protect our children. Let us send a message, a strong one at that. Hurt our children, and we will come after you. And you will not like it,” he vowed.
According to Aguirre, the CPC strategies against OSEC and CLT would be piloted in the National Capital Region and Central Visayas through other implementing agencies like the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Labor and Employment, Philippine National Police and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Klecheski, for his part, lauded the Philippine officials for their commitment to the fight against human trafficking.
The CPC was forged following increasing reports of Filipino children being victims of online sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and other forms of child labor trafficking.
The four-year program aims “to protect the future generation of Filipinos from exploitation by organized criminal groups, the Philippines and the United States took it as a responsibility to device a concerted and well-coordinated response against child labor trafficking.”
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