International support sought vs trafficking

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Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday rallied the international community to unite behind the campaign against human traffickers.

Speaking before the delegates to the 4th Manila International Dialogue on Human Trafficking held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) yesterday, Guevarra noted that human trafficking syndicates rake in an estimated $150 billion annually from their illegal activities.

Guevarra, who is also the head of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, noted that the usual victims of these syndicates are seafarers, fishers, domestic and tourist workers and children exploited in online sex trade.

He said the International Dialogue on Human Trafficking or the Manila Dialogue is envisioned to be a gateway for the Philippines to engage more closely with the international community in addressing trafficking in persons.

The transnational nature of the crime calls for an approach that will involve several countries and jurisdictions. Guevarra said the problem should be addressed through the more formal channels such as forging of treaties, bilateral agreements and memoranda of agreement/understanding.

“But as trafficking in persons is characterized and influenced by rapid developments in society and technology, a more dynamic approach on intervention becomes imperative.

Due to the enormity of the problem, the value of international cooperation was cited by Guevarra as there are numerous cases on record that illustrate in concrete terms how a solid international response to trafficking can aid in securing justice for victims.

Guevarra cited a recent case that began in France following the arrest of pedophile Raynald Bole who confessed to abusing a nine-year-old girl in the Philippines.

Bole also admitted to producing and distributing the child sexploitation materials online that revealed the trafficker as Joel Ragodos, a Filipino.

France police transmitted the information to the Philippines and Australia. The Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center corroborated the intelligence and with the help of the Interpol Australia’s Task Force Argos and the International Justice Mission a case build-up was conducted.

A police operation was launched in September 2017 that resulted in the arrest of Ragodos.
Just nine months after the rescue of the Filipina child, the victim saw her trafficker convicted. The court awarded the victim moral and exemplary damages totaling over half a million pesos.

However, Guevarra said the threat of human trafficking still exists and thus the help of all concerned is needed to put a stop to the practice and those responsible brought to the bar of justice.

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