DATU ODIN SINSUAT, MAGUINDANAO – To respond to the plight of 25 trafficking victim-survivors here, the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) intervened through holistic and integrated approach. An orientation on Human Trafficking and Online Sexual Exploitation on Children as well as Psychosocial Activities is provided from 23 to 24 September 2021 at Barangay Kusiong.

Before returning homes, participants were oriented about human trafficking and the emerging issue of exploitation in the times of pandemic. The psychosocial session also allows participants to share their experiences and sentiments which was processed by social workers present. Destressing activities include interactive games and art therapy.

Aside from the orientation, MSSD provided each of them a livelihood capital of PhP 15,000 through the Bangsamoro Sagip Kabuhayan (BSK) Program, hygiene kits, relief assistance, as well as educational and transportation assistance.

MSSD social workers also administered case management, referral for skills training, family counselling, and awareness raising for the victim-survivors.

“Part of the ministry’s mission and effort is to end, if not, to lessen trafficking in person cases and help victim-survivors avoid re-victimization, reduce their dilemma, and bring them economic sufficiency,” said Jan Michelle Agata, MSSD’s Specialist on Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons (RRTP).

The 25 victim-survivors, aged 17 to 24, compose of five (5) from Cotabato City, two (2) returnees from the municipalities of Sultan Kudarat, Matanog, and Datu Odin Sinsuat and one (1) each from Parang, Buldon, Upi, Barira Talitay, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Datu Piang, and Talayan.

They were rescued in 2018 which eight (8) of them were taken care of by the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Nayon ng Kabataan in Mandaluyong City while the rest were repatriated from Syria and accommodated by the Philippine Embassy for more than three (3) years.

Prior to their return, MSSD’s RRPTP and Women Welfare Program (WWP) had coordinated with the abovementioned institutions as well as the Court of Appeals for their release since they had stood as witnesses during the hearings to facilitate their proper family reintegration.

There is a total of 56 documented cases of trafficking in persons (TIP) across the Bangsamoro region, according to RRPTP report.

There’s a need to raise awareness on the schemes of online sexual exploitation of children and human trafficking in general. Online platforms can be used to combat trafficking. We also consider having youth formation as advocates against TIP,” said Agata

Agata added that monitoring of the assistance extended to the victim-survivors will be ensured to determine its efficiency and sustainability citing, the Municipal Social Welfare Officers (MSWDOs) in their areas will continue the case management to know their other needed interventions.” (Jidday Lucman/MSSD BARMM)