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CBCP-NASSA to hold orientation on ‘modern-day slavery’

NAGA City, Cam. Sur, Oct. 23, 2014—In line with the Church’s mission of raising awareness on human trafficking, a Catholic prelate invites community justice, peace and human rights network partners, especially youth ministries, to an “Orientation on Human Trafficking” on Oct. 27, Monday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m at OZ AVR, Adamson University, Manila.

Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona (File photo)

“Through this activity, we wish to widen the awareness on the issue of Human Trafficking and involve more youth in helping to prevent and become ready to involve themselves in fighting the violation to human dignity in their schools and neighborhood,” said Cáceres Archbishop Rolando Tría Tirona, national director of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA).

According to Tirona, human trafficking is a modern form of slavery which forces victims into prostitution, involuntary servitude, unpaid labor, debt bondage, the illicit sale and harvesting of organs, and pornography.

“Most vulnerable are women and children, and those who are poor, ignorant and desperate enough to take risk to feed their families. As such, our Holy Father, Pope Francis has put it in the global spotlight,” the prelate laments.

Quoting Pope Francis, Tirona shared, “Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity, a disgrace to our society which calls itself civilized.”

The Global Slavery Index of 2013 reveals between 140,000 and 160,000 Filipinos have been reduced to slavery, while 60,000 to 100,000 children are sexually exploited. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

Let justice prevail for slain transgender— AMRSP

MANILA, Oct. 23, 2014–An influential religious group called on the United States to allow the wheels of justice take its course for the transgender Filipino who was allegedly murdered by a US serviceman.

The Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) said that seeking justice for 26-year-old Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude who was killed in a motel in Olongapo City last Oct. 11 faces a huge challenge since the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) puts the victim at a “disadvantage”.

Under the VFA, the Philippine courts have no jurisdiction of US soldiers who violate local laws.

“Even while protecting the rights of a US citizen who is a crime suspect, in this case, US Marine PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US government should refrain from using might to get its own brand of justice, with little regard for Philippine sovereignty,” said the AMRSP’s Office of Women and Gender Concerns in a statement.

With the agreements signed between the two countries, the group said they are concerned about how the case will progress and the kind of justice that might prevail in the end.

“We pray that genuine justice based on the truth will be served–for both the victim and the accused,” said the statement signed by AMRSP chairpersons Benedictine Sr. Mary John Mananzan and Dominican Fr. Quirico Pedregoza.

Pemberton, 19, is currently detained at the Joint US Military Assistance Group at Camp Aguinaldo.

The AMRSP also appealed to the Philippine government to review the “onerous” provisions of the visiting forces agreement.

In 2005, the US took custody of US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith who was charged of raping a Filipino woman in Subic, Zambales.

The case was, however, dismissed after the woman reversed her testimony.

“We do not want to see a repeat of a past case that saw a rape suspect spirited away by his US defenders through the use of wife and force, resulting in the victim’s capitulation and an acquittal,” AMRSP said.

They also called on witnesses of Laude’s murder to come forward and help in the investigation of the case. (CBCPNews)