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The Fighters: Landing a blow to Human Trafficking

On June 19 2013, we celebrated the birthday of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, our hero who is considered to be one of the epitomes of freedom, nationalism and liberation in our country. He is a hero who died to show to the world the injustices made by the Spaniards at that time. But setting aside Rizal’s birthday, we have come to realize that such injustices and violence are still relatively much evident today, most especially among women and children. We have come to realize how human trafficking is posing not only a threat, but an actual danger in our society.

On this same day, a special screening of The Fighters: CNN Freedom Project was held at the Carlos Dominguez Conference Hall, organized by ADZU, SACSI Office, the Visayan Forum and CNN International. The said program was participated and attended not only by the students of Ateneo de Zamboanga University, but also by the various sectors and organizations in the city and in the region. In attendance were delegates and representatives from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-IX), Overseas Workers Welfare Assistance (OWWA-IX ), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-IX), Office of the City Social Welfare and Development, Criminal Investigation and Detection (CIDG-IX), Crime Watch Volunteers Association and ADZU’s very own Social Awareness and Community Service Involvement (SACSI).

The Fighters is a two-hour documentary film, produced and narrated by Leif Coorlim, executive editor of CNN Freedom Project, that showcases the struggle of one woman, human rights advocate Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, president of the Visayan Forum, along with her team of social workers, in fighting sex trade in the Philippines and saving hundreds of women and children who are sexually abused and exploited abroad and within the country. The film also features live and actual testimonies of the victims of human trafficking and their horrible experiences. It also highlights the efforts to gain the support of famous world boxing champion and Sarangani Representative, Manny Pacquiao, in landing a powerful blow to human trafficking by being one of its fighters against sex trade. Overall, the documentary film gives us the current worsening situation of human trafficking in our country and our government’s lack of accurate response and action toward such a pressing issue in society.

The program proper was spearheaded by a welcome address from Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, Assistant to the President for Social Development, followed by a brief introduction about the background of human trafficking by Atty. Ivy Damayo-Elvina, Regional Prosecutor of DOJ Zamboanga. After which a 24-minute video of the documentary film was shown followed by a commitment signing of all the participating organization and agencies. The Fighters aims to provide us of the real fight against human trafficking, the importance of government-charity-celebrity partnerships in addressing pressing issues in society and in bringing fort the real justice that the victims deserved.