Filipino bishops call for “zero tolerance” vs human trafficking
Filipino bishops once more reiterated their call for action against human trafficking, describing it as a crime that “directly assaults” human dignity.
In a pastoral letter released December 9 in behalf of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas stressed that Filipinos should have “zero tolerance” against human trafficking.
“Utmost cooperation is needed between Church and State, between the citizens and the instrumentalities of government to make sure that the will and the forces needed to combat it should never be less strong than those committed to promoting (human trafficking),” the archbishop said.
The CBCP president also urged the faithful to do their part in ending human trafficking. “It would be a more terrible disgrace if we who hear or read about the fate of victims could only think of ourselves lucky that we have been spared from such fate, but feel no compulsion to share or mitigate the suffering of the victims or wish to curb it,” he said.
Citing the Holy Sciptures, the archbishop reminded Filipinos about the Lord’s order to his flock for them to help those in need. “Whatever you did to the least of My brethren, you did unto Me,” he wrote, citing Matthews 25:40.
“We call upon all the faithful to join hands in every possible endeavor at every level of society, from local to national to international, in the pursuit of this objective,” the letter also said.
The United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report for June 2014 noted that despite efforts done in the Philippines to address human trafficking, the susceptibility of some law enforcement officials’ to corruption enabled traffickers to “operate with impunity.”
Additionally, the report pointed out that two unfortunate events toward the end of 2013 – the armed conflict in Zamboanga City and the devastation of Eastern Visayas by super typhoon Yolanda, created additional opportunities for human trafficking.