There is power in the collaboration and action of dedicated leaders to address societal issues. This was clearly achieved when more than 200 leaders from the Philippines gathered together in the Panagtapok 2022 (which translates to ‘a gathering’ in English). The event united anti-trafficking advocates in continuing the fight against trafficking in person and online abuse and exploitation of women and children in the Philippines. It was led by JPI-IDC, Inc., a non-profit organization partner of Free the Slaves in the Philippines. The event was well attended by various organizations in the country, which supports the cause to address the overwhelming problem of OSEC (Online Sexual Exploitation of Children).
In a 2019 study of the International Justice Mission, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses used for child sexual exploitation increased from 43 out of every 10,000 in 2014 to 149 out of every 10,000 in 2017. The study also confirmed the Philippines as a global hotspot for OSEC, with data from participating law enforcement agencies globally showing that the country received more than eight times as many referrals as any other country during the 2010-2017 baseline period.
“This is a very important undertaking that FTS strongly supports and encourages. Meetings and dialogues are very important means to cultivate interventions of the unique needs of the communities we serve. This event fits our recently launched strategic plan under partnerships and movement building. We acknowledge the importance of cooperation, networking, sharing knowledge, and learning from each other are very important in addressing human trafficking around the world since no organization can do it alone. We need to work together.” Bukeni Waruzi, Executive Director of FTS, delivered this message to the event’s stakeholders. “We need to come together as a community, as experts, as people who care, as a community of civil society movements. We are grateful to be part of the Panagtapok 2022.” He added.
The participants of the event also heard messages and insights from the Philippines – Department of Justice Undersecretary Emeline Aglipay-Villar, IJM Philippines Field Director Atty. Lucille Dejito, and Executive Officer of IACAT (Interagency against trafficking), Mr. James Gregorio. Various organizations have expressed commitment to further coordination and partnerships to address human trafficking and online sexual exploitation of children in the country, especially in the region of CARAGA.
The Philippines is one of the newest priority countries of FTS in Southeast Asia. We are working with ground partners like JPI-IDC to address various forms of modern slavery through research, advocacy, movement building, and training to advance the knowledge of local stakeholders.