Filipinos urged to join online petition to end slavery

By Anna Valmero

MAKATI CITY, METRO MANILA—Filipinos online are urged to join the social media awareness campaign dubbed “Walk Free Movement” to end the war against human trafficking and slavery.

Harnessing the power of social media will bring widespread awareness on the online petition  for the ratification of ILO Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers.

By tapping social media to get one million signatures, the petition will send a strong message to the government and legislators that the world is watching how the Philippines will address the issue at hand, said Fiona David, executive director for Global Research for Walk Free.

“The Philippines has a serious human trafficking problem, both from workers in the domestic and foreign shores. It is a good thing that the Philippines is also a leader in the fight against slavery,” said David in an interview.

David referred to the work of local nonprofit group Visayan Forum Foundation that has assisted and rescued over 70,000 Filipino victims of human trafficking and forced labor.

The youngest that the group has rescued from child pornography and prostitution is an eight-year-old girl who showed her private parts via web chat, said Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, founding president and executive director of the Visayan Forum.

Oebanda said that most of the youth victims that the agency has rescued are aged 8 to 25-years-old and are from vulnerable and poor families in Samar and Leyte.

H.E. Bud Scruggs, acting chief executive of Walk Free also lauded the work of the Philippine government and Visayan Forum to step up efforts in preventing human trafficking and rescuing victims.

Latest estimates of the International Labor Organization peg the number of victims of forced labor at 20.9 million. Of this figure, some 11.4 million or 55 percent are women and young girls, while 18.7 million (90 million) of the total figure are exploited in the private economy.

The largest number of forced laborers at about 56 percent may be found in Asia Pacific, accounting for 11.7 million.

“The movement is a strong show of our collective stand to fight human trafficking. It is also a call to the business community to forge commitments and make social investments to ens modern-day slavery,” said Oebanda.

To date, the international community has recognized the efforts of the Philippines to step up the law enforcement and prosecution of criminal elements involved in human trafficking, said Jose Vicente Salazar, justice undersecretary and head of the Inter-Agency Council against Human Trafficking.

To sign the online petition, visit www.walkfree.org/en/actions/ratifyilo189 or visit

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