Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has tasked the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) to come up with an advocacy campaign to discourage OFWs from traveling to strife-torn Syria amid a travel ban there.
De Lima, who chairs the IACAT, gave the order amid reports that household service workers continue to be smuggled or trafficked to Syria through Dubai and Oman and other Asian cities despite the deployment ban imposed by the Philippine government.
“We hope to undertake this by familiarizing Filipino migrant workers with the modus operandi of the traffickers and alerting them of the imminent risks that they may face due to the political instability in the said destination country,” said De Lima in a statement Wednesday.
Unrest in Syria started when Syrian rebels took up arms after president Bashar al-Assad launched a violent crackdown against the 2011 Arab Spring protests. The rebels and the government have pinned the blame for the chemical attack on each other.
Among the member agencies of the IACAT are the Departmemt of Justice, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Immigration, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Foreign Affairs, and Department of Social Welfare and Development.
A total deployment ban in Syria has been in place since August 2011 due to the political instability there.
According to the DOJ, the ensuing mass repatriation of OFWs from Syria on the last quarter of 2012 gave way to the discovery of numerous workers without proper travel documents or have no existing records of leaving the country.
(Source: Mark Merueñas/KBK, GMA News)