COTABATO CITY - Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) recently reported that human trafficking remains a problem in region, with over half of the 1,470 women trafficked to Syria in 2012 hailing from those parts.
These findings were disclosed by Laisa Alamia, ARMM executive secretary, at a two-day seminar on human trafficking. Alaima revealed that of the 1,470 women victims of officially reported human trafficking cases in Syria, at least 605 are from the ARMM provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Maguindanao.
Alamia pointed to poverty and armed conflict as the culprits for driving women to desperation, forcing them to cling to false promises of jobs.
The ARMM is the poorest region in the country, with a poverty incidence of 46.9 percent in 2012, compared with the 2012 national poverty incidence of 22.3 percent.
Figures from the National Statistical Coordination Board show that 47 out of every 100 families in the ARMM are poor, compared to 22 out of every 100 in the national level.
Alama said that there are reports yet to be verified, as well, that traffickers target minors in the ARMM and force them to work as prostitutes in Metro Manila.
The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking added that the problem of trafficking in the region is aided by low literacy rates.
The ARMM has maintained the lowest literacy rate in the country since 2008, with barely over 70 percent literacy, compared with the rest of the nation’s 86.4 percent.
According to former senator Santanina Rasul continuing armed conflicts in some areas in the ARMM are major impediments to the implementation of successful education programs.
Alamia also noted that traffickers likewise take advantage of people displaced by armed conflict.
Compounding the problem is the refusal and hesitancy of victims to file charges against traffickers, after receiving threats or being bribed into silence.
“Not a single case of human trafficking in the region has been filed despite the soaring number of incidents,” she said.
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said that he is trying to change the situation with the creation of an executive order to strengthen regional anti-human trafficking efforts.
He also ordered the release of an initial amount of P2 million to encourage victims of human trafficking to file cases against their recruiters.- See more at: http://www.canadianinquirer.net/portal.php?mod=view&aid=5012#sthash.B5GTmrRf.dpuf