Human trafficking is NOT a joke.
Calling your chief aide as your official bugaw, as someone who picks women for you, is despicable, and it is heart-cringing to see hundreds of Filipinos applaud such a joke, even if we consider it as a joke and without any semblance of truth.
I spent more than two years of my life as a private prosecutor for human trafficking cases, and although I ended my employment with the Children’s Legal Bureau, Inc.* before I was able to convict a single accused person for human trafficking, for the two years I worked as a prosecutor for trafficking cases, I got to know the extent of abuse suffered by the victims of human trafficking. For the highest official of the land to joke about human trafficking is loathsome and detestable. No manner of rationalizing such behavior could excuse it.
I could not understand my former** colleagues and associates in the anti-human trafficking front who could find such behavior acceptable by choosing not to call out the President for this human trafficking “joke” in Singapore. Surely, the stability of our employment or funding for our organizations or our political or career goals should all be secondary to our goal of bringing about a society where human trafficking is NOT considered a joke by anyone, where human trafficking is viewed by most as horrible as the slavery of black people in the past.
What Pres. Duterte said: “Then you have the… Bong Go… Ang official aide ko pati official bugaw ko. Siya yung tiga-… traffic… Siya yung mamimili kung sino ngayon, sino bukas at iba pa.”
(The relevant part of the video start at the 3:49 mark.)
* The Children’s Legal Bureau, Inc. is a Cebu City-based non-governmental organization which deals with, among other concerns related to children, trafficking of children for sexual exploitation.
** I say former because while there are still local government units and organizations which invite me to give lectures on human trafficking and while I still get invited at times to attend to network meetings, I am not anymore a member of any organization or network which is part of the anti-human trafficking front.