The Philippines is, unfortunately, a hot spot for modern slavery and human trafficking. According to the Global Slavery Index over 784,000 people are estimated to be living in slavery within the country. However, Filipinos are found exploited all over the world, with some of the worst cases found in the Middle East. In Kuwait, the situation is so bad that the Philippine Embassy has its own shelter which regularly houses over 200 female domestic workers.
Many Filipino organisations, each with their own focus, are working hard to reduce the prevalence of this horrific crime. Some are focused on interception, some on rescue and shelter, while others are working to increase the impact of legal structures.
The Catholic Church has begun, with Arise’s help, to institute a diocesan-level network of Episcopal Commissions to combat the problem in their parishes, and raise awareness within key areas. Led by Bishop Santos, and coordinated by the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerants, this network builds on several successful initiatives already in place. In order to ensure that this new network builds where it is most needed, Arise and CCAHT are working on a programme of research, including a series of sub-regional consultations.
After the final consultation, held in Zamboanga City (2-4 September), Arise and Bishop Santos (pictured left) convened a meeting of the key anti-slavery groups in Manila (5 September). The goal of the meeting was to present the findings of the consultation phase, get input, and enhance cooperation between the different organisations. This will move towards a more effective networking structure to increase the organisation’s collective impact.
The meeting, which came off the back of four years of relationship building and networking by Arise, successfully outlined a set of principles through which collaboration between organisations can be deepened.
Arise, and Bishop Santos, hope that this is just the start of more fruitful and deeper collaboration of anti-slavery organisations across the Philippines. No one organisation can solve this issue alone, and by forming stronger networks we hope that we can begin to turn the tide on the exploitation of Filipinos.