Sunday, February 3, 2013

FALDEF vows to help root out human trafficking : Filipino Reporter
J.T. Mallonga, Esq. (standing) addresses the Fil-Am media at the Philippine Consulate Monday. With him in photo are (from left) Dr. Angie Cruz, Diane Paragas, Emerito Salud and Consul General Mario de Leon, Jr.  (Filipino Reporter photo)
The Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund (FALDEF) has officially partnered with the Philippine Consulate General in New York and the United States Embassy in Manila to nip in the bud the rising trend of alleged trafficking of Filipinos into the U.S. by setting sights on the “source” of the problem.

In its first ever press conference since its inception in 2009, FALDEF president J.T. Mallonga, Esq. said the biggest export of the Philippines to the world is manpower, and the issue of trafficking and other forms of labor abuse usually originate back home.

“We intend to set up a legal defense fund to prosecute cases from the source,” said Mallonga, announcing the creation of a Philippine Legal Defense and Education Fund (PHILDEF) in Manila.

The idea of PHILDEF was approved by U.S. ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas and will be formalized during a special reception to be hosted by Thomas himself for FALDEF officials at the embassy in Manila this Feb. 27.
Mallonga said the U.S. Embassy will play a major role in finding an end to the problem since all visas used by Filipinos to legally enter the U.S. are issued by the embassy.

“We may have strong partnership with all the Philippine consulates in the U.S. and we may have a strong legal representation in the Philippines (through PHILDEF), but without the U.S. Embassy helping us put a stop to this, by blacklisting the agencies involved in trafficking, then all of the efforts will go to waste,” Mallonga noted.

In its upcoming meeting with Thomas in Manila, FALDEF is hoping to seek an audience with representatives of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to obtain funding for PHILDEF.

Mallonga said assistance from USAID will give PHILDEF the proper logistics to bring the guilty parties to justice.
USAID is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid to provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance to people overseas struggling to make a better life in a free and democratic country, and in support of the foreign policy goals of the U.S.

USAID has been giving millions of dollars to various non-government agencies in the Philippines, but none of those NGOs or any other entity go after the perpetrators of trafficking and bring them to justice, Mallonga noted.
Aside from trafficking and labor-related matters, PHILDEF can also help look at cases of Filipino workers facing the death penalty overseas, particularly in China and the Middle East.

Consul General Mario de Leon, Jr. said the Philippine Consulate’s team up with FALDEF is the “first public-private partnership to assist our nationals.”

“We have broadened and deepened our relationship with FALDEF,” said de Leon, as he cited FALDEF’s solid track record in helping numerous Filipino nationals in distress.

Aside from stopping the deportation of several Filipinos and solving immigration-related matters, FALDEF is also helping save from the death row two Filipino nationals in Texas.

De Leon will host FALDEF’s dinner fund-raiser on March 1 at the consul general’s official residence on 63rd Street in Manhattan, in cooperation with the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) and the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG).