IOM delegation visits ARMM
Cotabato City (19 May 2015) – An eight-man delegation from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea visited the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to learn various mechanisms aimed at curbing problems related to Trafficking in Persons (TIP).
The delegation, composed of two staff members of the IOM as well as five officials and a representative of a non-governmental organization in Papua New Guinea, is currently on a six-day study visit in the Philippines.
The group was briefed yesterday, May 18, by ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia, during the 2nd regular meeting of the ARMM Council Against Trafficking (ACAT) held at the Badjau Hall of the Office of the Regional Governor.
Alamia who is concurrent chairperson of the ACAT said that the ARMM government was privileged to have shared its experiences on the implementation of its Action Plan and strategies of interventions on trafficking in persons.
ACAT serves as the regional counterpart of the National Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking that seeks to monitor, oversee and coordinate programs and projects to prevent and suppress trafficking in persons.
In her briefing, Alamia told the delegation that the main cause of trafficking is mass displacement due to recurring conflicts and natural disaster calamities.
“Traffickers become creative nowadays as they lure parents on promises of jobs and easy money for their children allowing them to grab spurious opportunities,” Alamia said.
In the Philippines, the municipality of Bongao in the province of Tawi-Tawi was identified as the transit point of TIP wherein potential victims nationwide are often intercepted. As of 2014, data from the ACAT revealed that there are 387 victim-survivors of trafficking in persons in the autonomous region alone. This data had increased in the last quarter of 2014, Alamia said.
She disclosed that because of the challenge on TIP, the autonomous regional government has crafted and implemented several measures to include:
– the establishment of a One-Stop Processing Center in Bongao and Taganak islands in Tawi-Tawi;
– recovery and reintegration program for trafficked victim-survivors, hiring of social workers for family tracing and reunification;
– conduct of assistance by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration; and
– strengthening of Municipal Committee on Anti-Trafficking and Violence Against Women and Children in seven municipalities in the region.
Recently, pre-employment orientation-seminars and massive campaign against illegal recruitment and human trafficking were conducted by the regional government resulting in the filing of four cases of TIP against offenders. There was no similar case filed since the creation of ARMM.
The briefing provided opportunities for the delegation to meet officials and representatives of region’s line agencies. Papua New Guinea is now being assisted by the IOM in setting-up its counter-trafficking mechanisms. (Bureau of Public Information)