THE Plan International, Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. (BMFI), and the Cagayan de Oro City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on December 11 for the launching next year of a project that will protect children against trafficking.
The MOA, called "Collaboration for Protection against Child Trafficking," Plan International and BMFI will conduct a barangay-based project that will prevent children from exploitation.
The project will be conducted in three selected barangays in Cagayan de Oro City -- barangays Tuburan, Carmen and Lapasan.
Threjann Ace Noli, the CSWD Social Protection division chief, said Barangay Tuburan was selected because of it is a hinterland village; Lapasan was picked for its large number of informal settlers; and Barangay Carmen was chosen because it has the biggest population in the city.
"Per record, kaunti lang cases of child trafficking (the number of cases in child trafficking is low) but other cases such as child abuse mataas (is higher) in these barangays... Hitting two birds at a time, ma-address ang child trafficking at the same time ang child abuse (we can address the child trafficking and at the same time the child abuse)," Noli said.
According to Noli, the recorded number of child trafficking cases in the city from 2014 to 2017 is only 22, all were cases intercepted in the city's sea port, wherein six were not from Cagayan de Oro and the other 16 are from barangays Carmen and Canitoan, among others.
The youngest trafficking victim was 9 years old while the oldest was 17 years old, Noli said, adding that one of the factors in child trafficking cases is poverty and the corresponding enticement from the suspects such as offering education for the children.
Although there were only a few number of child trafficking cases recorded in the city, Noli said there are still unreported cases that were not intercepted in bus terminals.
"Isang (One) challenge is the bus terminals kasi pwede namang sumakay doon sa Iponan, pwede namang sumakay diyan sa Bulua. Yan ang isa sa mga challenge na tinitingnan ngayon ng (because child traffickers will be able to catch a ride in Iponan or in Bulua. That is one of the challenge observed by the) City Inter-Agency Committee against Trafficking or CIACAT, kasi sa seaport madali, how about sa mga bus terminals (because it’s easy to intervene in seaports, but how about in bus terminals)," Noli said.
The one-year project, Noli said, will have three phases: (1) Social Preparation, (2) Project Implementation, and (3) Evaluation of the Project.
He added that the CSWD's role in the project will be to promote the recently implemented Parental Responsibility Code of Cagayan de Oro, to provide social workers needed in the project, and to conduct the aftercare program of CSWD.
“Isa sa na raise namin (One of the things we raised) with Plan International and BMFI sabi namin, maganda ang takbo ng Cagayan de Oro in terms of child protection (we said that the flow of Cagayan de Oro in terms of child protection is good) but in terms of child trafficking na knowledge, yung mga tao hindi pa masyadong alam kung ano ang child trafficking (the public do not have any knowledge of what child trafficking is all about),” Noli said.
Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. is a Filipino Mindanao-based and Mindanao-focused non-government organization which primarily engaged in promoting equity-based development and sustainable peace, and has been in partnership with the City Government since 2013.
Plan International, meanwhile, is an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.