The Department of Public Works and Highways has pledged to institutionalize zero tolerance on trafficking in persons in all its infrastructure projects all over the Philippines under an agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corporation MCC and Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines.
The move came amid charges that white slavery and prostitution were on the rise in areas where roads were being constructed or repaired by the public works department.
The increase in the number of road and bridge projects in the country has spawned the operation not just of brothels and other sex establishments, but also the cause in the rise of person being trafficked, according to MCA-P.
In a statement, the MCA-P said they have convinced the DPWH to adopt an anti-trafficking in person policy.
The initiative will involve capacity building of DPWH employees and staff in 18 regional offices, including the agency’s headquarters. It aims to integrate anti-TIP measures in different phases of construction using the “Toolkit for Making Road Insfrastructure Projects Gender Responsive.”
Undersecretary Maria Catalina S. Cabral, who chairs the DPWH Committee on Gender and Development, expressed commitment to incorporate anti-TIP initiatives to the agency’s gender toolkit during the opening of the first batch of Training of Trainers last Feb. 10.
“DPWH is really in a unique position to be able to make change and to have a better fight against trafficking in persons within its projects,” MCC deputy resident country director Burak C. Inanc was quoted in the statement.
MCA-P managing director and chief executive officer Ma. Victoria E. Añonuevo said she personally have no doubt that the government remain steadfast in fighting TIP.
“We will eventually break the vicious cycle that robs human beings of their dignity and hinders our growth as a nation,” she said.
MCC and MCA-P pioneered the anti-TIP advocacy in infrastructure development in the Philippines in the Secondary National Roads Development Project (SNRDP) they funded.
The project involves the rehabilitation of 222 kilometers of road in Eastern Samar and Samar, which the MCC and MCA-P tagged in the statement as TIP hotspots.
“We are proud to say that what we did in SNRDP, as far as TIP is concerned, is a pioneering effort. We are very happy that DPWH has supported and came up with bright ideas on how to sustain these initiatives,” MCA-P Deputy Managing Director for Operations Bingle B. Gutierrez said.
Human trafficking can take the form of domestic servitude, peonage, forced labor, sexual servitude, bonded labor and the use of child soldiers, according to an issue brief released by MCC in March 2010.
“The influx of labor needed by wide-scale construction work, such as SNRDP, is believed to increase the vulnerability of communities to TIP, thus, prompting DPWH, MCC and MCA-P to work together not only to deliver safer roads to the people of Samar and Eastern Samar but also to protect the rights of vulnerable communities, particularly women and children, from TIP,” the statement read.