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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Most victims of trafficking in Northern Mindanao chose not to pursue legal charges against their captors, a prosecutor of the Department of Justice here said Friday.

Assistant City Prosecutor Louie Borja said trafficking victims, particularly children, usually do not report the illegal activities to authorities.

“For the reason that most of them (victims) see the traffickers as a source of income. These children are disinterested complainants,” he said during a multidisciplinary stakeholders' training here.

Borja said communities play a crucial role in the matter, as barangay officials can monitor potential human trafficking activities and report these to law enforcement authorities.

Borja and other stakeholders discussed rights-based approaches in handling cases of the worst forms of child labor, including online sexual exploitation of children and child labor trafficking, in connection with the celebration of the World Day Against Trafficking on July 30.

Daphne Culanag, a representative of World Vision's Project Ace, said children's rights must be protected the same way the rights of adults are valued.

“Imagine a world without child labor, imagine a world where your children can go to school, so they have a better future,” Culanag said.

Councilor Joyleen Mercedes Balaba assured the city government has been “always inclusive” in protecting the safety and welfare of women and children in safeguarding their rights.

“We try to establish a mechanism in handling cases of abuse and exploitation down from enforcement with the Philippine National Police,” Balaba said.

She said the city government actively cooperates with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking. (PNA)