THE CATHOLIC Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has declared Feb. 5, 2023, as the annual National Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.

Fr. Roger Manalo, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, called for stronger action against human trafficking. 

“Other than national celebrations, the declaration can also facilitate diocesan and sub-regional celebrations or observances,” Manalo said in a letter addressed to the CBCP. 

The initiative was prompted by the Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking and was approved by the CBCP Permanent Council in November 2022. 

“Journeying in dignity” will be the theme of the 2023 event, which will be held at the EDSA Shrine in Quezon City. 

A 2022 study by the United States Trafficking in Persons found that there were 1,802 potential victims of human trafficking in the Philippines between April 2021 and March 2022. 

St. Josephine Bakhita, a Canossian religious sister, is the patron saint of victims of human slavery and trafficking. Her feast is commemorated annually on Feb. 8, and is tied to her encounters with traumatic experiences of human trafficking during her childhood. A.B. Maestrado 


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