Sunday, November 24, 2013

Child sex trafficking and abuse in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan

It is unthinkable to most of us that as well as having to contend with the basic human need of finding food and water, shelter for you and your family and medicine to prevent disease spreading or treat those with wounds, hundreds of thousands of women and girls will face the very real risk of violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse, rape, forced marriage and trafficking.

Child traffickers may take advantage of their situation and persuade those children to engage in sexual slavery and labor bondage.

Since last week, the UN humanitarian team that went to Tacloban city was only able to assist 1.1 million individuals and distributed 837,900 food packs, the UN said.

A British charity is warning aid agencies and authorities in the Philippines of the increased risks of child sex trafficking and abuse in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, urging them to be vigilant.

Many children were separated from or may have been left abandoned by their parents, a situation that possibly exposes kids to all forms of sexual violence and exploitation.

Many people don’t want to read or think about such harsh and painful realities but it happens and we have to do all we can to prevent this. Preda children's charity is appealing for donations and help to send trained social workers into the devastated area to provide a child feeding station and help find and protect these lost, homeless, abandoned children before they are abducted.

With such challenges before us, we have to summon up the spiritual strength to meet them and overcome them. The Filipino people are a very resilient people and suffer up to twenty typhoons a year and one or two strong earthquakes. Sitting on the pacific ring of fire, it is expected and when there is no exploding volcano to cope with, there are plenty of other natural disasters.

The Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has called for urgent vigilance by aid workers to this form of child trafficking in the areas devastated by the most powerful typhoon in history to hit land. Called Haiyan or by its local name “Yolanda”, it has devastated and flattened entire towns, villages, and killed scores of people in the central Philippines and their children will be known as the lost children of Yolanda. Driven by winds up to 315 kilometers an hour, brutal ordeal will scar the people of the Visayan region for a generation. We too will be judged by how we responded or when we did not.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Education office asked to give update on JO teachers probe

Representative Carmelo Lazatin has asked the Angeles City Division of City Schools Superintendent Luz Arriola for an update on the investigation on 10 public school teachers from Northville Elementary School who were allegedly hired as job order employees of the City Government under the administration of Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan.

In a letter addressed to Arriola, Lazatin cited reports claiming that several people, whose names were included in the list of job order employees in the Cultural Mapping Program of the City Tourism Office, denied receiving salaries of P600 to P650 per day.

A copy of Lazatin’s letter has been forwarded to President Benigno Aquino III and Department of Education Secretary Brother Armin Luistro.

One of the said teachers is Catherine Garcia, daughter of Barangay Lourdes Sur Kagawad Daniel Gutierrez, reportedly claimed that she participated in the program voluntarily and did not receive any salary from the City Government.

Earlier, senior citizens leader Francisco Esguerra, whose name was also included in the list, also denied receiving salary from the city government.

In his appearance in a local radio show, Esguerra explained that he, along with other members of the senior citizens’ federation, participated in the Cultural Mapping as volunteers and did not receive the said P600 to P650 daily salary.

Also included in the job order list is Barangay Margot kagawad Nenita Ferrer who, earlier, joined several other alleged “ghost employees” in filing a Supplemental Complaint Affidavit before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon.

The affidavit filed by Ferrer and other witnesses supported the complaint filed by local mediaman Robledo Sanchez against Pamintuan, City Accountant Wilfredo Tiotuico, City Budget Officer Fe Corpuz, and City Treasurer Juliet Quinsaat in relation to the controversial job order appointments of the City Government.

Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Adoracion Agbada recently ordered Pamintuan and company to submit their Counter Affidavit within a period of 10 days upon the receipt of the order.

Sanchez revealed that on January 7, he received a copy of the Motion for Extension of Time submitted by Pamintuan and company asking the Deputy Ombudsman to extend the period of filing their Counter Affidavit and grant them an additional 15 days from January 7 to January 22.

by Reynaldo Navales