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MANILA (Mabuhay) – More than a year after a 24-hour hotline against human trafficking was established, the government received about 11, 000 phone calls from victims and their families, the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) said.

Dubbed as “modern-day slavery,” human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.

A news release of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), said since the 1343 hotline (operating on a 24/7 basis) was established a year and a half ago, “the hotline has received 11,000 calls from local and overseas sources, with recorded 165 case calls, of which 52 are reportedly victims of human trafficking.”

The “Laban Kontra Human Trafficking” hotline has been launched in March 2011.

Still, the CFO said “many victims still do not file charges against their recruiters.”

Anti-trafficking in Persons Act

In March this year, representatives of the Interagency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) sat down with members of the media to explain the human trafficking issue in bite-sized terms.

Patty Sison-Arroyo said trafficking is determined by The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (RA No. 9280) with the following elements combined:

acts (such as recruit, transport, transfer, harbor, receive); means (threat, coercion, abduction, fraud or deception, abuse of power); and purpose for exploitation (for sexual, labor, or even physical abuse that comes in the removal of organs).

Sison-Arroyo said trafficking may come in any of the following schemes, which can get perpetrators 20 years in prison and a fine of P1 million to P2 million: sex trafficking (prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation); forced labor (slavery, debt bondage, involuntary servitude); organ trafficking; and children in armed activities.

Human trafficking scams

Meanwhile, the CFO warned against traffickers using “fake” or “arranged” marriages as the basis for transporting Filipino women.

In early August, Bureau of Immigration officials thwarted the attempt of two Filipino women to leave for Korea, pretending they were married to Koreans.

“Trafficking, in the guise of intermarriage, is a known practice, which is now using advances in technology like the internet,” the CFO said.

“The CFO case monitoring databank also shows that offers of overseas employment via marriage is a source of income for local prostitution rings, sometimes with the collusion of the victims’ relatives and friends,” it added. (MNS)