Circular No. 16 – 08
Our Pastoral Commitment to Combat Human Trafficking
Your Eminences / Your Excellencies / Reverend Administrators:
Human Trafficking in the Philippines is a crime against humanity. In an effort to deal with the problem, the Philippines passed Republic Act (R.A.) 9208, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, and amended into R.A. 10364, Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.
The United Nations, adopted and entered into force on December 25, 2003, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children
Trafficking in Persons as defined by law, refers to the recruitment, obtaining, hiring, providing, offering, transportation, transfer, maintaining, harboring, or receipt of persons with or without the victim’s consent of knowledge, within or across national borders by means of threat, or use of force, or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the persons, or, the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation which includes at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery, servitude or the removal or sale of organs.
The Holy Father Pope Francis mentioned and articulated his deep concern on the issue of Human Trafficking. He made mentioned that Human Trafficking is the 21st century slavery and describing it as “an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity”. (April 2014 Combating Human Trafficking Conference in Rome)
As our response, the Catholic Church in the Philippines, through its Episcopal Conference, agreed to continue its involvement in the advocacy and campaign against human trafficking. In particular, the Body agreed that the CBCP will join the Philippine Covenant of Evangelical Churches and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines as one of the conveners to the Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking (PIHMAT).
In the implementation of CBCP’s involvement against Human Trafficking, the body agreed that the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI) will be the lead commission to handle this issue. The lead commission may coordinate with the Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace (ECSA-JP), Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) and the Office on Women.
We recommend, that at the Diocesan Level, a special committee on human trafficking under the Commission for Migrants and an inter-ministeriality cooperation with the commissions / ministries of Social Action (Social Services), Youth and Women be formed.
The ECMI through the leadership of its Bishop Chairman Most Rev. Ruperto C. Santos together with other commissions involved will be coordinating with your respective Dioceses for this purpose. Likewise, we also encourage you to coordinate with the ECMI.
In observance of our participation against human trafficking, please be informed that December 12 is declared as the International Day against Human Trafficking and February 8 is the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita also known as “Mother Moretta” (our Black Mother) as the Patron Saint of Human Trafficking Victims.
From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, November 22, 2016.
+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan