The Aquino administration has failed to protect the victims of the Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) who are at risk of falling prey to human trafficking, an opposition lawmaker said on Monday.
Rep. Luz Ilagan of Gabriela party-list expressed such sentiments in light of the disclosure of United Kingdom-based charity outfit Plan International that there were five girls who were recruited from the towns of Basey and Marabut in Samar province to supposedly work for a bakery in Manila, but were later told that they would be working only at night.
“We have long warned on the increased vulnerability of women and children in Tacloban as well as in other municipalities in Leyte and Samar after tens of thousands lost homes, livelihood and families during the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda. Yet it appears that no program or government effort has ever been put in place to arrest or prevent the trafficking of persons from happening and the snail-paced rehabilitation efforts now make the situation worse,” Ilagan said.
Super Typhoon Yolanda, which lashed Visayas provinces last November, left at least 6,000 people dead and pulverized government and residential properties, resulting in tens of thousands of displaced people.
The Gabriela legislator argued that the government should have learned its lesson from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption experiences wherein girls fell prey to prostitution in exchange of rice and canned goods.
“It is highly probable that there are several more cases of trafficking and prostitution in these areas. It has been more than two months since Yolanda, but many are yet to rebuild their lives and find alternative sources of livelihood. These are extremely desperate times for these women, especially for mothers who have children to feed and support,” Ilagan pointed out.
Ilagan then cited that those internally displaced persons as a result of Yolanda who have been transported to Manila and Cebu during the first month of evacuation from Tacloban were just as vulnerable.
“At that time, many were just desperate to leave even if unsure of their destination or their fate in Manila or Cebu. Many did not know where to find relatives or whether their relatives can actually accommodate them. Where are they now?,” Ilagan stressed.
“Were there even efforts to document those who were leaving Tacloban by the thousands in C130s and military boats?,” Ilagan added in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI