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31/07/2012: Embassy Enters into Partnership with Polaris to Assist Victims of Human Trafficking

Ambassador Jose Cuisia (left, seated) and Mr. Bradley Myles (right, seated) sign the Memorandum of Collaborative Agreement at the Philippine Embassy on July 31, 2012.  Labor Attaché Luzviminda Padilla (left, standing) and Ms. Carolina De Los Rios (right, standing) served as witnesses.

31 July 2012, Washington DC. The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. entered into an agreement yesterday with the Polaris Project, a leading non-governmental organization in the United States, in its efforts to engage with other institutions in the campaign against human trafficking.  The partnership enables the Philippine Foreign Service establishments in the U.S. and Polaris to collaborate in the provision of social services for Filipino victims of human trafficking.

Signing the Memorandum of Collaborative Agreement at the Philippine Embassy were Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and Mr. Bradley Myles, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Polaris Project.  The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Filipino American community in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area that included  two Filipino victims of human trafficking who were beneficiaries of assistance provided by the Embassy and the Polaris Project.

Ambassador Cuisia called the signing of the agreement with the Polaris Project “another milestone in our international cooperation efforts and our own national crusade against this modern-day slavery.”  He cited the steps the Philippine government has taken to fight this menace, including the enactment of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, which prohibits both sex and labor trafficking and imposes still criminal penalty for violation of the law, as well as the establishment of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, a multi-agency body that addresses trafficking along the three program areas of prevention, prosecution and protection.  A partnership agreement was also signed by the Ambassador with U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis last month that enhances the enforcement of the rights of workers to a safe and healthy work environment, and fair wages and working hours.

In his remarks, Mr. Myles noted that partnerships are key in the campaign against human trafficking.  He added that while a number of other embassies were in denial that the problem existed, his experience working with the Philippine Embassy was nothing but positive, with staff who were sensitive, eager to work with victims and genuinely cared about the issue.  He expressed the hope that more victims would be reached and said the ultimate measure of their success would be the number of lives changed.

The Polaris Project is a leading non-profit NGO in the U.S. established to combat all forms of human trafficking involving both U.S. citizens and foreign national victims. Founded 10 years ago, its mission goals include the provision of client services (such as emergency services, comprehensive case management, group therapy, transitional housing, and victim outreach), policy advocacy, training and technical assistance, and public outreach and communications. Polaris also operates a central toll-free 24-hour hotline (1-888-3737-888) for callers to report tips, to be referred to anti-trafficking services, or to request training and technical assistance, general information or specific anti-trafficking resources.  (END)