MANILA, July 4, 2016— The Philippines must step up efforts in fighting human trafficking despite its upgraded ranking in the latest US State Department Trafficking in Persons report, a Catholic bishop said.
Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the bishops’ Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said the country’s highest ranking in the 2016 TIP Report is a “welcome development” but more needs to be done.
“While our status has improved we should continue and even redouble our efforts at eradicating this crime,” Santos said.
From Tier 2, the Philippines has been promoted to Tier 1 status for complying with the minimum standards for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of the US.
The prelate said human trafficking is a “major scourge” in the country and an exploitation of the “highest degree” because it destroys lives especially of children and women.
Bishop Santos also said that there is a need for concerted effort from all sections of the society to curb human trafficking.
“We in the migrants ministry are committed to working towards this goal,” he added.
The Catholic Church has earlier forged a “covenant of partnership” together with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches to fight human trafficking.
The signing of the covenant was held last June 10 during a recent meeting of the Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking, an alliance formed in 2013 by the three Christian organizations.
The churches particularly vowed to become “places of welcome, healing and hospitality” for victims and survivors of human trafficking.
They also pledged to provide the victims places of sanctuary, legal support, emergency funds, and medical and psychological support.
They will also continue to engage in lobbying through international and national networks to ensure that all forms of human trafficking are addressed by the government. (CBCPNews)