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Cablegate: Philippine Stakeholders Unite Against Human

VZCZCXRO1499
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2035/01 2420935
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 290935Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1711
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAWJB/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002035

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP, G/TIP, INL, DRL/ILCSR
LABOR FOR ILAB
JUSTICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND CRIMINAL DIVISIONS
STATE PASS TO USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KCRM KWMN ELAB RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE STAKEHOLDERS UNITE AGAINST HUMAN
TRAFFICKING

REF: MANILA 951 (STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIPS TO COMBAT
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS) AND PREVIOUS

1. SUMMARY: On August 20, Ambassador joined civil society
groups, as well as Philippine government and private sector
partners, to inaugurate an aggressive campaign against human
trafficking. The event, held at Manila's North Harbor,
attracted a diverse crowd to mark a renewed and expanded
initiative to combat the root causes that make Filipinos --
especially women and children -- vulnerable to being
trafficked internally and globally. The campaign will also
expand public-private partnerships by enlisting further
support of private companies from the fields of
transportation, staffing and recruitment, and media. The
Ambassador used the occasion to honor the Embassy's longtime
civil society partner, Visayan Forum Foundation President
Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, as a "2008 Hero Acting to End
Modern-Day Slavery," as designated by the 2008 Department of
State TIP report. END SUMMARY.

A COORDINATED CAMPAIGN TO FIGHT TRAFFICKING
-------------------------------------------

2. The Philippines has been a leading source of migrant
labor in the world since the 1970s, resulting in a domestic
economy today that depends on its eight million overseas
workers for at least ten percent of the GDP. While the
economic benefit has been profound, this emphasis on migrant
labor has also created conditions that foster human
trafficking. The Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF), which
hosted the event, is a nongovernmental organization
established in 1991 that works to protect marginalized
migrants and especially trafficked women, children, and
domestic workers. The VFF has established a network of
partner organizations, which helps VFF provide assistance to
potential and actual victims of trafficking. With the help
of multiple U.S. grants through G/TIP and USAID, the VFF had
assisted more than 32,000 people as of June 2008.

3. Delivering the keynote address, Ambassador emphasized
that strong partnerships -- particularly public and private
cooperation -- give greater leverage to advocates in the
fight against human trafficking. She noted that the
Philippine Port Authority's partnership with the Visayan
Forum Foundation dates back to 1999, when the Port Authority
constructed the first halfway house for trafficking victims
at Manila's North Harbor and tapped VFF to manage the
facility. VFF now runs a total of seven halfway houses at
strategic ports throughout the country (Manila, Batangas,
Davao, Iloilo, Sorsogon, Surigao, and Zamboanga), and its
partnership with the Port Authority has proven to be an
enormous success.

EFFECTIVE PARTNERSHIPS
----------------------

4. On hand to mark the occasion were key Philippine
officials from the Office of the Ombudsman (a national office
that fights corruption), the Port Authority, and the Manila
International Airport Authority. Corporate representatives
from Microsoft Philippines; Manpower, Inc.; international
public relations firm OgilvyOne Worldwide; and media
enterprise Probe Productions also showed support for
Ambassador and VFF President Cecilia Flores-Oebanda's signing
of the covenant. VFF President Flores-Oebanda noted in her
remarks the thousands of migrant workers who are trafficked,
lured by promises of a better life in the urban centers of
the Philippines and abroad. She stressed the urgent need to
work together in tightening and effectively enforcing border
controls.

5. Ambassador took the opportunity to recognize the
compassion, dedication, and zealous advocacy against
trafficking that Flores-Oebanda has shown and presented her
with a plaque commemorating Flores-Oebanda's selection by the
Department as a "Hero Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery" --
one of only 17 worldwide. Noting that the award also
highlighted Flores-Oebanda's "groundbreaking work to
collaborate government and NGO efforts to combat
trafficking," the Ambassador reminded the audience that the
success of the covenant signed that day, just like VFF's past
achievements, would hinge on the strength of our
partnerships.


MANILA 00002035 002 OF 002


FORGING NEW ALLIANCES
---------------------

6. Not only did stakeholders commit to redoubling existing
efforts, the covenant signing allowed supporters to celebrate
new developments in innovative anti-trafficking cooperation:
The Manila International Airport Authority is constructing
the Philippines' first airport-based halfway house and
expects to open the shelter in late 2008 at Ninoy Aquino
International Airport under the management of VFF. Also, the
Office of the Ombudsman has established a program called
TARGET that is now prosecuting human trafficking cases that
implicate government officials. Finally, advertising firm
OgilvyOne supplied pro-bono design services to VFF that have
resulted in new advocacy materials in various media formats
for VFF's critically important awareness campaign.

7. The joint covenant also shows strengthened support of
innovative programs. VFF underscored commitment to its
partnership with Microsoft Philippines to provide information
technology training to victims of trafficking at VFF shelters
and other community centers throughout the Philippines. The
VFF-Microsoft partnership led in 2006 to the "Stop
Trafficking and Exploitation of People through Unlimited
Potential" (Step-UP) Project, and since then has provided
basic computer training to more than 5,000 victims and
potential victims of trafficking. VFF continues to partner
with private shipping and land transport companies to train
their personnel to identify and report possible human
trafficking cases. The Philippine Airlines ground and cabin
crew are set to undergo the same training in the coming
months.

Visit Embassy Manila's Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website: http://www.state.sgov.gov/
KENNEY

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