The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Saturday, January 28, decided to make the National Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking (NDPAHT) a yearly event.
The decision stemmed from a petition from the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI) for the CBCP to declare every first Sunday of February as a day of prayer for victims of modern-day slavery.
“We thank the Philippine bishops for their concern. They have shown us their compassionate attitude and concern for Filipinos,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos, ECMI vice chairperson.
The country’s Catholic bishops are currently gathered at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila for their biannual plenary assembly, which ends on January 30.
The CBCP has earlier declared February 5 as NDPAHT, but ECMI believes that making it a yearly event will unite communities against human trafficking as well as exert more efforts to combat the problem.
“The move will further help protect the Filipinos against human trafficking, especially our people on the move,” Bishop Santos said.
In 2016, the CBCP Cluster Against Human Trafficking (CCAHT) was formed to strengthen the Church’s response against trafficking of persons.
CCAHT is composed of various CBCP commissions and offices with ECMI as the lead convener.
Among its objectives is to reach out to dioceses with high prevalence of human trafficking and to push for the creation of a diocesan committee that will particularly respond to the issue.
The Church’s main activities for the first NDPAHT will be held at the EDSA Shrine and will be highlighted with a Mass to be presided over by Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, CBCP Vice President, and candle lighting for the victims and survivors of human trafficking.