TACLOBAN CITY—At least 15 municipal mayors together with social workers and community leaders in Eastern Visayas will gather here starting Wednesday for a two-day Anti-Trafficking in Persons Summit.
Maria Salome Ujano, national coordinator of Philippines Against Child Trafficking, said that solving human trafficking issues in the country needs multi-agency efforts particularly if dealing with powerful and influential offenders.
“Psycho-social support to the victims is very important considering the lack in number of social workers in our local government units and counseling is least of their priority,” Ujano told reporters in a press conference.
Participants of the summit will be from towns in the region covered by the 222-kilometer Samar Secondary National Roads Development Project. This is funded by a $214 million grant from the American government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
The towns include Hinabangan and Paranas in Samar, Borongan, Maydolong, Balangkayan, Llorente, Hernani, General MacArthur, Sulat, Taft, San Julian, Quinapondan, Salcedo, Mercedes and Guiuan in Eastern Samar.
The event is organized by Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines (MCA-P) and PACT.
Ujano said that aside from poverty, other causes of increasing number of human trafficking are higher incidence of out- migration, too much exposure to internet and materialism, family violence, travel and tourism, lack of knowledge on law and fear of retaliation, among others.
According to the Department of Justice, convictions under RA 9208 or Anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 has reached 180 while number of persons convicted has totaled 202.
“Yet that is still a tip of an iceberg,” Ujano said, noting the growing number of unreported cases of human trafficking and those which are still pending trial.