L-R: Laurel Downie, Mirella Beltram and Christopher Bridges of Polaris, Marie Josephine Borromeo, Freya Palad and Jo Mari Rifareal of MWO.

20 March 2024
Embassy Press and Information Section

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) through Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, has signed a Memorandum of Collaborative Agreement with Polaris to assist Filipino victims of human trafficking in the United States. Polaris is a non-profit, non-governmental, US government-supported organization serving victims and survivors of human trafficking. Polaris Chief Executive Officer Catherine Chan signed the agreement on behalf of the organization.

Ambassador Romualdez noted that “the Philippine Embassy will not waver in extending protection to overseas Filipinos, which is one of the pillars of foreign policy. We work closely with Philippine government partner agencies to ensure that the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of addressing the needs of Filipinos abroad is carried out. We truly appreciate the support of Polaris in pursuing our mandate.”

DMW Officer-in-Charge Hans Leo Cacdac said that “the agreement reflects our continuing effort to expand our network of partners to prevent human trafficking and provide necessary assistance to victims. Polaris is a well-established organization with a wide network of service providers within and outside the US. Our partnership with them will help us identify potential victims of human trafficking among Filipinos entering the US and provide them with immediate legal, shelter and other assistance.”

Cacdac thanked Ambassador Romualdez for signing the agreement on behalf of the DMW. “Our Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. under the leadership of Ambassador Romualdez has been very supportive of DMW initiatives in protecting Filipino migrants and helping those in distress,” he said.

Cacdac also said that the agreement was initiated at the instance of the late DMW Secretary Maria Susana Ople. “She had known Polaris for a longtime having been an anti-human trafficking advocate who devoted her life to the cause of ending modern slavery. This is her legacy,” added Cacdac.

The agreement outlines the various services that can be provided to Filipino victims of human trafficking by the DMW through the Migrant Workers Office (MWO) in Washington, D.C., and Polaris. These victims may avail of repatriation, legal, accommodation assistance as well case evaluation and referral to US law enforcement agencies. Polaris is also prepared to provide training to Philippine Embassy and MWO personnel on assisting human trafficking victims. ###

20 March 2024

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Representatives from Polaris and MWO further discuss on how they can assist Filipino victims of human trafficking in the United States.