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  • Writer's pictureChris Thomas

Children In PH Mark 2022 World Day Against Trafficking In Persons With Football

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

The partners and beneficiaries of the StopOSAEC advocacy led by football foundation Football for Humanity (FFH) conducted its first face-to-face event since the pandemic at the Cuenca Covered Court in Ayala-Alabang, to celebrate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on the afternoon of 20 July 2022.

Over 130 participants made up of coaches and beneficiaries composed of parents and children from Metro Manila cities, namely Pasig, Mandaluyong, Rodriguez (commonly known as Montalban), and Muntinlupa, gathered in the Cuenca court to meet representatives of the organisations and companies that had supported the project since 2021 and made it possible for FFH to spread the advocacy to over 30 locations nationwide.

Mr Thanh Le, Development Counsellor of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines, led the sponsors in delivering inspirational messages to the children-beneficiaries of the program's educational and empowerment strategy to combat online child pornography — a form of online trafficking of children. “We collectively have to do everything that we can to provide a safe environment for children, whether online or offline,” Mr Le advised the audience. According to the United Nations World Day Against Trafficking in Persons website, on a global basis, “one in every three victims detected is a child.” The report further states that Covid19 further propelled trafficking on digital platforms, such that the “crime of human trafficking has conquered cyber space. The internet and digital platforms offer traffickers numerous tools to recruit, exploit, and control victims…”

PLDT and Smart Digital Wellness Executive Katherine P. Diaz De Rivera underscored PLDT and Smart's commitment in championing their advocacies on children's rights and online protection through their Anti-OSAEC initiatives. “Sports and active play empower children to become mentally resilient, which further enables holistic growth and well-being. As we combat OSAEC, we take on important steps in contributing to children’s rights to live and thrive in safer spaces, both offline and online,” Ms. Diaz de Rivera added.

As a sign of solidarity with victims of trafficking from all over the world, all of the participants were recorded waving blue heart-shaped paper cut-outs while declaring “end human trafficking!” before FFH coaches began the game-based activities for the children. The same event was conducted simultaneously in over 20 locations across the country, where FFH coaches are implementing the StopOSAEC program. The WDAT was commemorated in FFH locations in Davao City, Cebu, Tangub City, Oroquieta City, San Carlos, Pangasinan, Cagayan de Oro, Gingoog, Surigao, Butuan, Masbate, and Dumaguete.

Chris Thomas, FFH Founder and President speaking from Liverpool in the UK, said, “This is a great step towards conquering OSAEC. Our team at Football for Humanity is one with the government, law enforcement, civil societies, and any individual or organisation seeking to end this serious crime against children. There's so much more ground to cover, but through strategic collaborations, we will win.”

Ms Jacquelyn Rayela, lead representative of the Department of Justice/Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, delivered a brief but impactful message to remind everyone in the assembly,” …report any malicious activity online – help us by reporting – Report 1343 Action Line.” The 1343 Action line is a 24/7 hotline facility launched by the IACAT that responds to emergency or crisis calls from victims of human trafficking and their families.

The FFH events coincide exactly on the effectivity of Republic Act No. 11930 or Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC), which lapsed into law on 30 July. It is an amendment to the Anti-Pornography Act or Republic Act No. 9775, which serves to strengthen the law to protect minors against online sexual exploitation, disregarding any form of consent from the child, and increases the responsibilities and accountability of social media platforms, electronic service providers, as well as internet and financial intermediaries.

Football for Humanity Foundation is registered in the Philippines and the UK. FFH uses the power of play to educate, empower and protect vulnerable children facing the threat of abuse, exploitation and violence.

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