A media launch was held last July 18, 2017 at Golden Bay Restaurant, Pasay City to launch the oath-taking event that will happen on October. Buhay OFW, a multi-awarded public service show that airs every Saturday at 9:30 PM on Aksyon TV and Aksyon International, celebrates its 7th year anniversary and takes a significant leap forward by launching the project Anti-Trafficking OFW Movement (ATOM) through the initiative of host and founder, Marissa Del Mar.
ATOM is a step towards remedying the statistics of over 10 million Filipino men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor worldwide. Our OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) are in dire need to provide a better future for themselves and their families, constitute a large percentage of those already exploited or at risk of being exploited. This campaign recognizes the contribution of the OFW not only in the Economic Development of the Philippines but also in the promotion of safety among their fellow migrants.
Although a term less estranged to many due to depictions in entertainment outlets such as Hollywood movies, human trafficking is an ongoing hazard closer to home than most people expect and realize. UNDOC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) recognizes trafficking in situations such as recruitment of a person for a false job within or across national borders with the intention to trap them into forced labor. More often, the deception and abuse does not stop there. It leads to prostitution, sexual exploitation, slavery, and removal of organs.
Some common destinations for victims are Hong Kong, Kuwait, Singapore, Qatar, China, Japan, United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia which are places popular to the general public as tourist destinations. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Mactan International Airport become exit points for workers expecting real jobs abroad only to be met instead with real threats. They are also smuggled and trafficked in ports located in Ilocos Sur, Zamboanga del Sur, Davao del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Bicol, and Dagupan City with 30% transported by sea.
A large number of victim originate from areas within Metro Manila and in the provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Pampanga, Cavite, Batangas, Cebu, Zamboanga, and Davao. These are also the people who contributes to the Philippines billions of Pesos worth of remittance which lead to the amassing of foreign reserves and the rise of the national savings rate. They sacrifice their comfort, health, marriages, children, and often their pride, to improve their recipient households and, in the process, the national economy. These are the people stripped of their human rights by predators operating under pretense of recruitment agencies and other aliases.
Through the combined efforts of Buhay OFW Foundation, San Miguel Corporation, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), National Real Estate Association (NREA), Sterling Group of Companies, Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Philippine Chinese Charitable Institution (PCCA), Zonta Club of Makati Central Business District, Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PCCCII), together also with the media partners: Aksyon TV, ANC, Light Network Channel, Malaya Business Insight, these facts become the foundation on which change begins. The meaningful oath-taking will take place on October 23, 2017, Monday at the Diamond Hotel, Manila.
Cooperation with these organizations and authorities could uncover and convict more labor traffickers and officials and establishments complicit in these crimes. The resulting assistance of thousands of victims opens opportunities for further action towards the safety of all.
ATOM challenges Filipinos here and abroad to raise awareness, strengthen camaraderie, and therefore reduce and someday eliminate this threat to our OFW altogether.