Iloilo Capitol, PRO6 intensify drive vs human trafficking

By Florence F. Hibionada

ILOILO, PHILIPPINES – The campaign against human trafficking is off to a different playing field here in Iloilo with innovations in strategies employed by the Iloilo Provincial Government (IPG) and Police Regional Office 6 (PRO6).

Subject of a Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA), seekers of business licenses in the “entertainment and dining industry” will now be required to attend an orientation-seminar relative to human trafficking.

“Consider yourselves warned,” is the underlying message to all owners of Karaoke or KTV Bars, massage parlors, spas, restaurants and other similar business establishments.

As such, “no attendance, no permit” is now the condition with the seminar primarily focused on the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law, RA 9208 or Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, and other related laws.

“This prerequisite is provided for in the Memorandum of Agreement between Iloilo Provincial Government and Police Regional Office 6 which was signed by Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr. and the region’s top cop, Police Chief Superintendent Cipriano E. Querol, Jr. It applies both to those who are renewing their business licenses and for the new applicants,” PRO 6 in a news release sent to Philippine News Service (PNS) went. “The Agreement will serve as coordinating efforts between the PRO6 and Iloilo Provincial Government in regulating the hiring of women and children to work in Karaoke bars, restaurants, massage parlors, spas and similar establishments.”

With Iloilo as “take-off” province of said campaign, Querol said the Agreement will be replicated to other provinces in the region.

“Western Visayas is among the target destinations of trafficked women and children. With the support of the Local Government, we can effectively combat trafficking in persons through massive information campaigns,” he said.

To note, Police Superintendent Ma. Cecilia Detablan, Chief of Regional Women and Children Protection Desk, disclosed that the Philippines was placed on the Tier 2 Watch List of the US State Department. The report was for Calendar Year 2009 that showed slow progress of the country in convicting trafficking offenders.

“The US State Department provides information on trafficking in many countries and ranks each country’s performance from Tier 1 (highest) to Tier 3. The ranking is based more on the extent of government action to combat trafficking than on the size of the problem,” the news release continued. “Defensor said his office is willing to support PRO6 in all its campaign in the maintenance of peace and order in the province.”

“In all matters of mutual concern, you can always expect the support of my leadership,” Governor Defensor assured.