Poverty One of the Biggest Obstacles in PHL’s Fight vs. Human Trafficking

ANDREI MEDINA, GMA NEWS July 20, 2012 5:30pm

One of the biggest obstacles in the Philippines’ fight against human trafficking or “modern day slavery” is poverty, experts said on Friday.

At the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Forum on Human Trafficking in Malate, Manila, David Batstone, co-founder and president of the non-government organization Not For Sale, told GMA News Online about the need to provide more economic alternatives for Filipinos.

He said poverty sometimes forces people to make wrong choices.

“Ways that help people who are in desperate positions where they economically make choices that they might not otherwise make,” he said.

“What we’re trying to do in this event is come up with new innovative ways of investing in communities where there’s great poverty, where there’s vulnerability where there’s already trafficking already taking place,” he added.

Batstone also stressed the need to help not only victims of trafficking but also potential victims and their communities.

“That’s where we really get to address the problem, otherwise we’re addressing symptoms. And you have to address symptoms but you’ll have to get to the root cause,” he said.

Batstone challenged non-profit groups to creative ways of building self-sufficient communities.

“Really the challenge for many non-profit [groups] is to find a way to be sustainable to the future. You have to find ways to be creative about generating your own future. You take the money that’s been given to you and make it multiply,” he said.

Batstone began his advocacy against human trafficking when learned through a news article that one of his favorite Indian restaurants was actually a human trafficking den.

In 2007, he and some family and friends started the group Not For Sale to help fight human trafficking in different countries.

‘Two things’

In another interview with GMA News Online, Bishop Efraim Tendero cited “two things” that the Philippines lacked in its fight against human trafficking.

“Two things. Greater collaboration and number two is more coordination. The collaboration and coordination is picking up but we need to wait for it,” he said.

Tendero said it was important not only to rescue human trafficking victims but help them rebuild their lives.

“It’s important that it’s not just actual rescue but what would be the rebuilding of lives of those that were trafficked,” he explained.

“Some of the trafficked victims are saying: ‘Thank you for helping us but what happens after?’” he added.

He also challenged the Philippine government to help the victims.

“Even the government should think of how to make them more productive so that after they are rescued, they would have a way of making a living,” he said.

Tendero has served as national Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches since 1993.

He was also a spiritual adviser for former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos and actively represented the Philippines in international interfaith dialogues. – VVP, GMA News

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