To raise public awareness on various issues affecting the welfare of Filipinos abroad, the Commission of Filipinos Overseas (CFO) kick-started its annual Community Education Program (CEP) in Cebu and Negros Oriental provinces today (June 24).
In tandem with the various concerned government agencies, CFO Executive Director Aileen Macapili informed they will hold “school symposia, pulong-pulong, dialaogues with non-government organizations, religious leaders/members, local government units, and community leaders/members.”
The awareness campaign is geared towards the “realities of international migration, intermarriages and existing government policies and programs directed against illegal recruitment, documentation fraud, and human trafficking in Central Visayas.”
In the next five days, they will be in the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-lapu, and Talisay in Cebu, and in the cities of Dumaguete, Bais, and Tanjay in the province of Negros Oriental.
Representatives of Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, Overseas Workers’ Welfare Agency, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Justice and Human Rights Unlimited, Inc. are the campaign’s resource speakers.
While their offices have their own different functions, they said they also entertain various concerns especially the welfare of Filipino migrants, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)-whether they are documented or undocumented.
In a press briefing on Monday at the office of the Integrated Bar of the Philppines (IBP)-Cebu City Chapter, Capitol, Cebu City, the topic was specifically focused on human trafficking and illegal recruitment as one of hottest issues in the country.
Based on the DOJ records, 38 cases were filed in Region 7 in violation of Republic Act 9208 otherwise known as the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003” since 2003 up to 2012. Eight of these cases are filed in Cebu City, two in Cebu Province, six in Lapu-lapu City, two Bogo City, and another two in Mandaue City.
The good news, according to Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casińo is that 17 people were already convicted while other cases are still pending in court.
Casińo also informed that the President has signed into law Republic Act 10364 that expands and supplies the inadequacies of the earlier anti-human trafficking law.
The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act provides more prohibited acts and persons. It also sanctions heavier penalties ranging from six to 40 years of imprisonment and a fine of P50,000 to P5 million.