eastwind journals, October 29, 2021
By Bernie V. Lopez, email@example.com
A single mother sold her ten-year-old daughter to clients to be able to feed her family. The child agreed but turned numb and withdrawn. This story was told by an orphanage who eventually rescued the girl from her mother. The child agreed to be rescued because she could no longer stand the suffering. Choose your wild – die of hunger or sell your daughter.
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This is inspired by an article by Fr. Shay Cullen of PREDA Foundation, an advocate of rights of sexually-abused children and women.
There is also this bizarre story of a jeepney driver with a jeepney beyond repair who convinced his pretty wife to sleep with a Japanese tourist for several nights in return for a new jeepney. Choose your wild – die of hunger or sell your wife. We live in a harsh cruel world. In Pilipino, we say “kapit sa patalim” (grasp the knife’s blade), a product of extreme poverty.
Fr. Shay reports that the Philippines is a human trafficking hot-spot. Extreme poverty is the main ingredient. He says, “While hundreds of suspected traffickers are arrested, few are convicted. The US-based Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports that 2020, there were very few convictions in a (Philippine) population of 110 million people.”
The low conviction rate is due to 1) limited funds of advocacy groups and therapeutic centers, 2) bribery of law enforcers; source of big income, 3) fear of victims to report their cases, 4) threats from traffickers to the family and relatives of the victims.
The critical goal is to rehabilitate rescued victims with counselling, as a response to trauma. Fr. Shay says, “Protection, healing and empowerment are the most important services needed to help the victims and stop human trafficking but they are not available in most cases.”
Children who are victims of trafficking often escape from their homes out of hunger or further abuses from parents. When they escape, they are often ‘recycled’, picked up again by new traffickers.
The lawyers of traffickers resort to delaying tactics and endless postponements, allowed by complicit judges. The victim’s relatives sometimes give up in frustration, which is the goal of the traffickers. Although traffickers are still mostly untouchables, the small dent on human trafficking is an achievement.
The Preda Foundation reports that the NBI once rescued five girls aged 14 to 16, based on a tip, from a certain trafficker in Subic named Michael Macaranas. They were abused by many men. They were brought for rehabilitation and counselling at the Preda Foundation Home, persuaded to testify in court against Macaranas under strict witness protection. He was convicted on two counts of trafficking and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Preda has an average of 15 successful conviction cases per year, a milestone. After rehabilitation, Preda offers their children free education and help in livelihood. Although these success stories are miniscule in the big picture, it is the silver lining on a dark cloud of human trafficking. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “In this life, we cannot do great things
we can only do small things with great love.”
Preda recommends that a provision in the anti-trafficking law be added that government agencies are mandated to offer rehabilitation and counselling or pay for the services of a private institution, and provide living expenses during rehabilitation. The DSWD should take the initiative on this. Finally, NGOs and government should partner to provide post-rehabilitation education and livelihood.
To learn more or give donations, visit Preda e-newsletter site firstname.lastname@example.org. More power to you, Fr. Shay for your heroic efforts.
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Author’s Credentials. Blogger – ex-Columnist (Inquirer) – Healing Ministry – ex-Professor (Ateneo University) – Documentary Producer-Director (freelance, ex-ABS-CBN, ex-TVS Tokyo) – ex-Broadcaster (Radio Veritas) – Facebook “Bernie V. Lopez Eastwind” / Pages “Eastwind Journeys and Journals” and “Mary Queen of Peace”.