IACAT thanks Australia for helping fight human trafficking

MANILA Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) Undersecretary-in-Charge Emmeline Aglipay-Villar on Friday thanked Australia for supporting the Philippines' fight against human trafficking for the last 15 years.

Villar extended her appreciation to Australian government during the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons (AAPTIP)'s 12th National Program Steering Committee (NSPC) completion workshop at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City.

I would like to express our gratitude to the AAPTIP and to the Australian government for being here since 15 years ago to help the Philippines in combatting the trafficking, Villar said in her speech.

She said Australia's supports through AAPTIP have boosted the Philippines' campaign against trafficking in persons (TIP) and have help in keeping the country's Tier 1 ranking.

In those 15 years, we've gone a long way. We are still in the Tier 1 for the last three years, she said.

A Tier 1 ranking indicates that a government has acknowledged the existence of human trafficking and made efforts to address the problem by complying with the minimum standards of the anti-TIP law.

We could have not done it without the help of our international partners including AAPTIP and Australian government, Villar said.

She said the trainings and seminars that AAPTIP has provided for the Filipino law enforcers, prosecutors and judges are very valuable to fight human trafficking.

Villar encouraged other officials and members of IACAT not to be complacent now they have acquired knowledge on how to handle TIP cases, particularly the victims.

I hope through this, we will intensify our efforts and seek on how to improve our own efforts to combat trafficking in persons, Villar said.

Meanwhile, Head of Mission Mat Kimberly from Australian embassy reaffirmed Australia's commitment to support the anti-human trafficking programs of the Philippines and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-countries for the next 10 years.

We reaffirmed another 10 years of support for ASEAN's endeavor, Kimberly said in her speech, drawing applause from the NPSC workshop participants.

Kimberly said Australia is grateful to the Philippines' efforts, commending the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcers for addressing the human trafficking.

Villar welcomed Australia's reaffirmation of support in combating TIP in Southeast Asia region.

We welcome that because we really depend on best practices of other countries and it helps a lot to increase the knowledge of our investigators, prosecutors and even judges in handling trafficking in persons, she said in a media interview.

Throughout five years of AAPTIP implementation in the country, a total of 2,042 have participated in 57 trainings, 60 meetings, 138 activities and 21 workshops on identification, investigation and management of human trafficking cases.

Australian government has spent AUD2.1 million or PHP84.2 million while the Philippine government allotted PHP3.65 million for AAPTIP program.

The participants have commended the program with Judge Jolo dela Rosa, saying it helped him become knowledgeable and skillful in TIP because everything stems from it as to how to level up the practice in court.

Judge Ronald Exmundo said his awareness about TIP helped him handle the cases faster while Prof. Karla Cabel said she learned to be compassionate towards the victim and not just focus on winning the case.

I started without any information on this area, and what I have gained comes with my increase on confidence in handling TIP cases. It has strengthened my commitment to save lives, Police Senior Supt. Sheila Portento said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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