Iloilo joins Freedom Ride vs Human Trafficking

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Friday, April 19, 2013


ADVOCATES and cyclists against human trafficking continue the fight in Iloilo with another Freedom Ride happening on April 20, Saturday, at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol Building. Cyclists are expected to assemble at 6 a.m. and ride out at 7 a.m.

The 25-kilometer bike tour shall pass around major thoroughfares and significant landmarks along the 6 districts of Iloilo City. The cyclists shall wear the freedom ride shirts promoting the 1343 anti-trafficking hotline to draw public attention to human trafficking as a national and global issue.

According to musician, advocate, and cycling enthusiast Nityalila Saulo, “The cycling community in Iloilo is excited to participate in the Freedom Ride that will enable more people to become aware about human trafficking and the hotline number 1343. Like cyclists, we want everyone to get to their destinations safely and avoid being ‘trafficked.’”

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The bike tour is organized by Dakila, a group creatively inspiring involvement in social transformation, in partnership with the Manila Fixed Gear, a group of urban cyclists who has incorporated cycling in their lifestyle, the Freedom from Debt Coalition Iloilo, Partido ng Manggagawa and the Iloilo Folding Bike Riders (I-Fold) with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Department of Justice Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT) and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC).

Karen Bermejo, spokesperson of the artist collective in Dakila-Iloilo, said, “Stop Look Listen is a campaign that hopes to stop human trafficking by looking at its signs and listening to stories of victims and survivors.”

Bermejo added, “A lot of people in the provinces become victims of human trafficking because of the lack of information given to them. Iloilo is one of the more vulnerable provinces, especially with the number of Overseas Filipino Workers and seamen coming from the province. With the support of the city government, other organizations, and our advocates, we are hopeful that more people will learn about it, and, thus, lead to a decrease in the number of victims.”

Every year around 300,000 to 400,000 Filipinos fall prey to human trafficking in their own country and abroad. The Freedom Ride is part of the Project Freedom Campaign of Dakila, which aims to raise public awareness on Human Trafficking and empower advocates and citizens to become watchdogs in their own communities by driving them into action through grassroots involvement and amplified action through mainstream and digital media.

The ‘Stop Look Listen’ campaign kicked off last March 9 with a Freedom Ride held in McKinley Hill, Taguig City participated by around 1,000 cyclists. His Excellency Ambassador Ton Boon von Ochssee and Mrs. Martine Boon von Ochssee of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Josef Rychtar of the Czech Embassy, and H.E. Guy Ledoux of the European Union joined the bike ride as well as members of the diplomatic community representing the Embassies of France, Spain, Belgium, Canada, United States, New Zealand, European Union and Czech Republic; top officials of Dutch Corporations like Philips Electronics, Seatrade, Control Union Philippines and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum; Officials of the Department of Justice Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT) led by Chief Senior State Prosecutor Jonathan Lledo, Bureau of Immigrations Commissioner Ricardo David, Director Patricia Luna of DSWD and Assistant Secretary Jed Eva III of the Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the President, Actor Albert Martinez, sports and lifestyle host Reema Chanco, restaurateur Erik Waldie, and Miss Earth Air 2012 Stephany Stefanowitz and Miss Philippines Fire 2012 Thoreen Halvorsen.

The Freedom Ride is open to the public. For more information about the Freedom Rides and the campaign, visit http://dakila.org.ph/projectfreedom.

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