Catholic prelate: ‘Human trafficking violates a person’s dignity’

Published June 20, 2018, 9:01 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Leslie Ann Aquino

For a Catholic prelate, human trafficking is all wrong and evil.

Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said this is because human trafficking is the cruelest and brutal act a man can inflict to his fellowman.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga (CBCP / MANILA BULLETIN)
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga

“The man, woman or child who is trafficked or illegally recruited is taken not as a person, not as a human being but as an object for profit or for pleasure. The person is regarded as a mere commodity,” he said in a pastoral reflection released on the occasion of World Day of Refugees.

“Human trafficking violates a person’s dignity and human rights. His or her life is placed in danger of death and destruction. His or her family suffers separation and agonizes over the uncertainty of its illegally recruited family member,” added Santos.

He said it is exploitation to the highest degree because it destroys lives especially of the vulnerable and voiceless children and women, who should be accorded protection, caring, and security.

Santos said there is something that we can do to help prevent and put an end to what he referred to as “modern day slavery” such as by providing jobs to the people.

“Our people will be well prevented from being trafficked if their government can provide and create more jobs for them at home,” he said.

“With the sufficiency of jobs, working abroad becomes an option and not a last resort,” added Santos.

But such jobs, he said should provide stability and security; they should be more humane, just, and dignified.

“For example, a person is recruited with the promise of a high paying job or a successful career. But once in the foreign country, he or she ends being used for illegal activities or worse is forced into prostitution,” said Santos.

The ECMI head said the Church and the government must both increase their efforts in educating our people about the temptation of easy money.

Santos said to prevent human trafficking is to make our immigration officials at the port and airport terminals to become more strict, straightforward and deadly serious about their works and duties.

Those illegal deployments and recruitment agencies, he said should also be closed, their properties sequestered and money should be returned and used as reparations to the victims.

In parting, the prelate echoed the appeal of the Holy Father “together we can and we must commit ourselves so they may be freed and this horrible trade can be put to an end.”

The World Refugee Day is observed every June 20 and aims to raise awareness of the situation of refugees.