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Ecumenical service marks world day of prayer against human trafficking

Ecumenical service marks world day of prayer against human trafficking
Filipinos hold lighted candles as they pray for victims human trafficking to mark the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Trafficking in Persons at the Plaza Ferguzon in Ermita, Manila on Feb. 8, 2018. CBCPNews

MANILA— The fourth international day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking was marked on Thursday with a forum followed by an ecumenical service at the Plaza Ferguzon in Manila’s Ermita district.

The event was organized by the Catholic Church with the Philippine Interfaith Movement (PIMAHT) who called on everyone to work together to end exploitation and slavery.

It is estimated that 40 million people are victims of trafficking and slavery around the world every year. About 150,000 of these are said to be Filipinos, with many of them suffering abuse and violence.

The Philippines has been a fertile ground for human traffickers with most of their victims coming from poor families.

With the advent of social media and technology, human traffickers also have become innovative – with online sexual exploitation complicating efforts to fight the problem

For several years now, the Church has been closely working with concerned government agencies in the fight against human trafficking.

At least four CBCP agencies— Commissions on Youth, Social Action, Women and Migrants – have been leading the Church’s response to end all forms of modern slavery in the country.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the CBCP Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI), said that among their priorities is education, outreach and policy programs.

Church’s efforts include organizing a campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking and expanding its network to various dioceses and parishes to combat the illegal industry.

“In our ministry against human trafficking, we focus on 4 Ps: prevention of humans being trafficked, protection for the victims, providing help and legal assistance, and to prosecute human traffickers,” Santos said.

Recent CBCP efforts also include expanding its network to various dioceses and parishes and other church-based organizations to help combat the illegal industry.

The world day of prayer falls each year on February 8, the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who is the patron saint of human trafficking and slavery victims.

“We at CBCP-ECMI pray that through intercession of St. Josephine, our migrants experience experience fair and just welcome to receiving countries, gracious and good employers and be strong and resilient to bear their cross and follow faithfully Jesus,” Santos said. CBCPNews