February 15th, 2017 | by Balaod Mindanaw
In its pursuit to fight for and defend human rights, BALAOD Mindanaw sees the urgency of addressing the problem on human trafficking which has become a very pervasive and lucrative business not only in the country but globally. This concern for urgency is especially so since Cagayan de Oro has the fourth (4th) most recorded number of human trafficking cases in the country and the most number, along with the province of Bukidnon, in Mindanao.
Cagayan de Oro City, being North Mindanao’s gateway to the world because of the presence of bus terminals, ship ports and airport, has become a very strategic location for human traffickers to operate.
BALAOD Mindanaw is thus spearheading an intensive and aggressive awareness campaign on Human Trafficking as well as Online Sexual Exploitation in the communities that are probable targets of human traffickers. This is done by conducting three-hour Anti-Human Trafficking and Online Sexual Exploitation Awareness Seminars among public high school students in Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental that aim to orient and educate students about children’s rights, cases of human trafficking and online child abuse, and the means to prevent and remedy such incidences in their schools, homes and communities. Awareness caravans are conducted in partnership with other civil society organizations, non-government organizations and anti-human trafficking advocates. BALAOD likewise conducts skills training program on these organizations, volunteer advocates and even on selected teachers and students of participating public schools before they are tapped as partners and resource persons in the campaign/ awareness caravans.
In addition, BALAOD Mindanaw also facilitates the institution of remedial and preventive mechanisms among participating public schools to counter attempts and/or actual incidences of human trafficking and online sexual exploitation. These school mechanisms are then linked with the barangay as well as with government inter-agency network addressing human trafficking issue in order to create a seamless preventive-response counter-mechanism against traffickers.
In instances when actual human trafficking cases have been filed in courts, BALAOD Mindanaw also conducts case monitoring and, when necessary, provides legal support and assistance to government prosecutors, offended party litigants and/ or witnesses to help in the fair, just and swift prosecution of the cases.
As part of its advocacy work, BALAOD engages other stakeholders in the formulation of new policies, programs, ordinances and laws that attempt to minimize opportunities for trafficking and online sexual exploitation. In partnership with other advocates and government agencies, the organization also works on recommending changes in litigation procedures in order to establish a judicial proceeding that is more conducive to positive child growth and development.