|Kenney Calls for Fight vs Human Trafficking|
|Sunday, 13 January 2008 04:36|
US Ambassador Kristie Kenney yesterday graced the blessing and inauguration of a halfway house (Bahay Silungan sa Daungan) for victims of human trafficking at the Zamboanga City port. Kenney was assisted in the cutting of the ribbon by Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, executive director of the Visayan Forum Foundation Inc., Mayor Celso Lobregat and Abdussabor A. Sawadjaan Port District Manager-Southern Mindanao.
The construction of the building for the halfway house was funded by the US government through the United State International Assistance for Development (USAID). ”Trafficking of persons as all of you know is a global problem. It preys on our weakest citizens and people who do not know better. Let us never stop defending people who are victims of human trafficking and who cannot defend themselves against human traffickers.
It is an extraordinary thing to see people caring human beings who are victims of human traffickers. I encourage the media to awake the people on what is human trafficking,” said Kenney in her message. “I commended Judge Jesus Carbon for convicting two human traffickers. I laud the prosecutor and law enforcers for gathering evidence and arrest human traffickers and put them in jail. It is a job well done,” Kenney added.
The Bahay Silungan was turned over to the Visayan Forum Foundation as its caretaker. In her acceptance message, Oebanda expressed gratitude to the US government through Ambassador Kenney and Mr. Sawadjaan for the realization of the project. “This key is a symbol of a great war against human traffickers. With the teamwork of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking we will fight for the freedom of the victims.
Zamboanga City is the backdoor and gateway hell of Brunei-Indonesia- Malaysia-Philippine- East Asian Growth Area in transshipment of human trafficking,” said Oebanda. She also said that there were 18,000 victims of human trafficking on record and 43 cases were filed in court.
She lauded Judge Carbon for convicting human traffickers in two cases prosecuted by Prosecutor Darlene Pajarito. Among the members of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking are the Philippine National Police, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Police, National Transcrime Office, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Bureau of Immigration, National Bureau of Investigation, MARINA, Philippine Ports Authority, Local Government Unit and many others.
Sawadjaan said it is the 5th Bahay Silungan constructed in the country. The first was built at the Manila North Harbor. Others are in Sorsogon, Batangas City and Davao City. (By Allen Abastillas)
Also published in www.zambonews.com