The Hubert H. Humphrey Alumni Philippines held its 10th installment of the Humphrey Voices Series centering on “Human Trafficking: The Philippine Experience.” A record-breaking attendance of around 500 was at the event at Centro Escolar University, School of Law and Jurisprudence in Makati last July 21.
Dr. Ruby Palma, a Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey Scholar at the University of Maryland, School of Public Affairs in 1985, and the current head of the Quezon City Gender and Development Resource and Coordination Office (GADRCO) was the first speaker for the event.
“Human trafficking is the worst scourge of the modern world,” she said. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) human trafficking has 30 million victims worldwide and only 44,000 who have survived have been documented. The human rights violation is taking place in 142 countries with Southeast Asia being one of the main sources.
“Trafficking contributes to gender violence because it does not only lead to racism and xenophobia, but it really is part of the discrimination and violence against women. Women and children are treated as property, mortgages or entertainers who are used and abused,” Dr. Palma said. She also explained that because members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are discriminated in many countries, they have fallen prey to traffickers all over the world.
Perpetrators of human trafficking may involve family members of victims, establishment owners and pimps among others. Globalization and IT development have really contributed to the spread of trafficking. With HIV/AIDS, physical mutilation and insanity resulting from the abuse, Dr. Palma cautions the public to learn more about the issue and be more vigilant to stop it from prospering in local communities.
The second speaker, Atty. Floro Balato, Jr., one of this year’s Hubert Humphrey fellows and currently the Senior Immigration Officer of the Bureau of Immigration, discussed protocols employed within the country to prevent human trafficking.
Attorney Balato engaged the crowd through activities that would sharpen their skills in detecting potential victims and offenders in Philippine ports. In his presentation, he cited particular instances of individuals attempting to depart from the country through fraudulent means. Ports which have been used by undocumented travelers have also been a topic for discussion.
“By looking at the traveler, you can tell that something is wrong,” Atty. Balato continued, “when we say risk assessment, we use our senses.” He pointed out that effects or belongings owned by a person, his or her clothing and accent say a lot about the intent he or she has for departing or entering the country.
Attendees of the event included Filipino Hubert Humphrey Fellows, representatives of various Philippine senators, LGUs, students from other universities and from Centro Escolar University. This event is currently the largest of its kind hosted by the Hubert H. Humphrey Alumni Philippines.