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PIA Press Release
2007/04/04

CATCHWISE conducts workshop in Butuan

by Lovely Laudette D. Gamba

BUTUAN CITY (April 4) -- "For centuries women and children have been victims of trafficking. An estimated 10 women were kidnapped and sold everyday. We intend to end all this."

This is the statement of Fr. Marcelo Cattaneo, Project Director of Consortium Against Trafficking of Children and Women for Sexual Exploitation (CATCH-WISE) during the Butuan Planning Workshop recently.

The planning workshop was conducted to establish firm collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders in the fight against human trafficking. It aims to see to how far the city and the region has done in its implementation of RA 9208 or the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act (ATIP).

It was learned that the implementation of RA 9208 or ATIP in the region is not yet well established. There are still stakeholders and partners who do not know the law. "In fact law enforcers themselves do not know the law thus could not be able to implement it", said one participant.

This participant revealed that there was an incident in Surigao City where a policeman apprehended one van containing minors. Although suspicious, the policeman hesitates to apprehend them for violation of RA 9208 because the policeman himself does not know that there is such a law.

Also identified during the workshop are the gaps in the implementation of RA 9208. Among those are the lukewarm attitude of the local chief executives (LCEs), lack of political will of the LCEs and lack of coordination among stakeholders.

"Even the prosecutors themselves would not help us convict these suspects. Filed cases are often dismissed because of technicalities," complained one policeman.

In defense to the prosecutors office, Atty. Ruth Sanchez, Assistant City Prosecutor explained that these things happen because some policemen do not follow the correct procedures in filing cases and also because filed cases lack enough evidence for conviction.

"To be assured that there will be enough evidence for prosecution to accept the motion to file a law suit, the aggrieved party should request the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) to prepare the documents, because honestly, our lawyers can prepare it better than the police," advised Sanchez.

CATCH-WISE Consortium is an aggrupation of six non-government organizations (NGOs) namely JPIC-IDC, ICPAT, BELEN I, Isidora Advocacy Foundation and WINGS, Bohol. The consortium aims to decrease the incidence of children and women trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

CATCHWISE boasts of one conviction for the violation of RA 9208 in Zamboanga City which the NGO hopes will lead to more convictions in other parts of the country. (PIA-13) [top]

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