Protection of Women & Children Tops Freedom Project
11 September 2012
Bahay Silungan sa Daungan or Port Halfway House (BSD), a program of the
Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) that serves
as a preventive mechanism for trafficking of women and children has been chosen
as The Freedom
Project 2012. The jury chaired by Former Governor Grace Padaca
picked the project so that partnerships can be forged between the PPA and local
governments and non-government organizations to build additional BSD, thereby
save more potential victims of human trafficking.
BSD was first constructed at the North Harbor in Manila and originally served
as a shelter for stranded passengers. Its conversion into a rescue center was
unintended – PPA discovered during interviews that those who took refuge
where those who ran away from their employers. These women and children travel
to Manila from their provinces upon promises of a decent job, only ending up being
dragged into prostitution or forced labor. Aside from free accommodation, BSD
provides pro bono legal assistance and counseling. “Freedom is synonymous
to responsibility and respect. Let us take it upon ourselves to protect the vulnerable
and to always respect their rights,” encouraged Padaca. “BSD’s
response to the situation of potential victims of human trafficking is remarkable
because it’s immediate and easily replicable,” added Padaca.
The other members of the jury were Dr. Julio Teehankee, Associate
Professor at De La Salle University
(DLSU) and Lito Arlegue, Executive Director of the Council
of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD). They deliberated on the merits of
the 21 projects submitted as entries from across the Philippines and identified
the top three. They reviewed them based on their 1) extent of collaboration with
the national government, LGUs and NGOs, 2) impact on communities, and 3) uniqueness.
How the recognition as The Freedom Project would boost the program’s efforts
was also considered.
The jury awarded Mainstreaming Migration in Local Development,
an initiative of Naga City that allows overseas
Filipinos to participate in governance, and Biogas for Cooking and Power
Generation, The Benedictine’s Eucharistic King Missionary
Project proposed by the Department of
Energy (DOE) to promote environmental consciousness as runners-up.
In the parallel online voting that garnered over 5470 confirmed votes,
Sinag ng Pag-asa or Ray of Hope, a program of the University
of Perpetual Help Rizal (UPHR) and the Bureau
of Corrections emerged as winner with 26% or 1,445 votes. Sinag ng Pag-asa
trains offenders in the penitentiary to become entrepreneurs, offering them an
opportunity for a renewed life when they get out of prison. Campus Hour
of Radio Veritas DZRH came close with 1,426 votes, a radio show
that gives a voice to the youth.
The presentation of the winners of The Freedom Project 2012 will be on 06
“The entries to The Freedom Project are testimonies of various initiatives
on good governance in the Philippines. They are proofs that institutions now use
their power not to limit freedom, but to expand it,” said Jules
Maaten, Country Director of Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a German liberal
foundation that organized the search.
The Freedom Project was previously called The
Liberal Project. In 2011, the Yellow Boat Project, Enhanced Literacy
Programs of Tagum City, and House Bill No. 3773 advocating civil society
participation in governance along with the United Nation’s Human
Development 2010 were recognized as outstanding projects.