‘Yolanda’ victims vulnerable to human trafficking, priest warns

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Fr. Melvin Castro sounds warning against danger of human trafficking in the wake of Yolanda tragedy.

MUNTINLUPA, Dec. 10, 2013 – As if the tragedy of a natural calamity is not enough, ‘Yolanda’ victims in the Visayas are now falling prey to the man-made scandal of human trafficking, a priest warned. 

“[Victims of super typhoon ‘Yolanda’] need food, they need shelter, they need employment, so [they become prone to believe] anyone who promises to them some of these things…Behind those promises are those syndicates of human trafficking,” said CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life executive secretary Fr. Melvin Castro in a recent interview. 

Missing women and children 

According to Fr. Castro, reports of women and children missing from refugee centers in ‘Yolanda’-stricken areas are alarming and should make key agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as well as the public, vigilant against the threat of human trafficking. 

In a report published last week in the Daily Guardian, a publication based in Western Visayas, DSWD Assistant Secretary Cheche Cabrera said, the agency was able to intervene in at least two cases of human trafficking involving ‘Yolanda’ victims before it was too late. 

According to Cabrera, one case involved “a very beautiful girl [who] was [being] escorted by two burly looking guys”. 

‘Modern-day slavery’ 

“Every tragedy and calamity brings out the best and unfortunately, the worst in some people that’s why let’s take care of [the victims] because there are really many people lurking around who will take advantage of the situation,” he added. 

Fr. Castro, who is also the founder of the Confraternity of Mary Mediatrix of All-Grace, alerted the public, organizations and government agencies that are most involved in relief and rehabilitation efforts for ‘Yolanda’ victims about “many who will put up a front of trying to help”, but who are, in fact, intending to lure women and children into prostitution or forced labor. 

He called the reality of human trafficking “modern-day slavery”, demanding that authorities scrutinize suspicious international flights from Manila that could be transporting human trafficking victims to other countries. 

“These are dangerous moments for women,” Fr. Castro noted. 

For those interested to help document orphans left by ‘Yolanda’, which could be a first step to safeguard them against human trafficking, contact the Pro-Life office hotline at (02) 733-70-27, Telefax 7349425 or 09192337783. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]

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