The Philippines and the United States have signed the Child Protection Compact (CPC) on Tuesday, April 11, as part of efforts to address trafficking and abuse of Filipino children.
Philippine Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, who is also chair of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), signed the agreement with U.S. Embassy in Manila Chargé d’Affaires Michael Klecheski at the Department of Justice (DOJ) office.
“To protect the future generation of Filipinos from exploitation by organized criminal groups, the Philippines and the United States took it as a responsibility to device a concerted and well-coordinated response against child labor trafficking,” Aguirre said in a statement.
According to Aguirre, the CPC aims “to increase the number of victims-centered investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) and Child Labor Trafficking (CLT) cases.”
The CPC also seeks “to strengthen government’s and civil society’s capacities to identify and provide comprehensive services for victims” and “to strengthen existing community-based mechanisms for identifying and protecting child victims.”
The implementation of the deal will be piloted in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Central Visayas (Region VII).
“The evil of human trafficking should be fought on all fronts. We should channel our collective efforts towards eradicating it. Anything that debases or dehumanizes the dignity of a person is an abomination that must end,” Aguirre said during the signing of the agreement.
He further added, “Slavery and exploitation [have] no place in any society. Any act that which enslaves or exploits our children magnifies the evil a hundredfold.”
Under the deal, the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons will provide $3.5 million to fund non-governmental or international organizations that would address OSEC and CLT.
According to Aguirre, $3 million of the said fund will be allocated to support capacity-building related to improving the Philippines’ response to OSEC.
The remaining $500,000, meanwhile, will be used to support activities related to the Philippines’ response to CLT.
The Philippines, for its part, will also allot P40 million for the intensified child protection programs.
Apart from the DOJ, also included in the agreement are the following Philippine government agencies: Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“Let us not leave no stone unturned in our avowed purpose to protect our children. Let us send a message, a strong one at that. Hurt our children, and we will come after you. And you will not like it,” Aguirre said.
Also involved are the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Philippine National Police (PNP). (Dana M. Sioson/AJPress)