Bishop fears many ‘Yolanda’ survivors trafficked

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MANILA, Nov. 28, 2014—Fearing its incidence may have gone up after typhoon Yolanda, Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo stressed awareness is key to ending the evil of modern slavery, especially in the country, which thrives mainly on the vulnerability of women and girls.

“Many [traffickers] visited Yolanda-hit communities, masquerading as benefactors, and promised survivors they would bring them to Manila for employment. But once here they’re stripped of their freedom and dignity. Some survivors, in desperation, resorted to criminal deeds,” he said in an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas.

The prelate lamented that modern slavery is a lucrative industry, involving hundreds of thousands of people.

Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo (Photo: CBCPNews)

Public awareness

“Modern slavery, a form of which is human trafficking, is a pestilence. What’s more tragic is that it often preys on women and girls, forcing them into the sex trade or child labor,” Pabillo shared.

“Today, slaves are cheaper … and it’s much easier to get someone into forced labor. They’re really slaves. Many of them are from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even the Philippines,” he stated.

In line with this, the prelate, who also chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), has enlisted the help of the media in spreading information and in fueling discussions on this vital issue to educate the public.

“We should become aware of this problem. I urge people in the media to tackle it. Let’s help one another and do our part in rooting out this scourge because anyone could become the next victim,” he said.

The bishop expressed concerns that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are being targeted by traffickers given that many of them ended up working abroad under inhumane conditions.

“They are underpaid, if at all. They are not free to move about because their passports are taken away from them by their employers,” Pabillo added.

Money worship

In a May 2013 speech to members of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travellers, Pope Francis described human trafficking as “a despicable activity, a disgrace for our societies, which describe themselves as civilised”.

“In a world that talks so much about rights, how many times are human rights trampled,” the Britain-based Catholic Herald quoted him as saying.

“In a world that talks so much about rights, the only thing that seems to have them is money. Dear brothers and sisters, we live in a world where money rules. We live in a world, in a culture, where money worship reigns,” the Argentine pontiff reportedly noted.

Pope Francis told government leaders, legislators and the international community to find “effective initiatives and new approaches for safeguarding their dignity, improving their quality of life and for facing the challenges emerging from modern forms of persecution, oppression and slavery.”

He also asked Catholics to “take seriously their obligation to see migrants and refugees as their brothers and sisters” and “give voice to those not able to make their cries of pain and oppression heard”. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCPNews)

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