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28/06/2011: Filipina Anti-Trafficking Crusader Calls on Ambassador Cuisia

Zamboanga City Assistant Prosecutor Darlene Pajarito calls on Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. during her weeklong stay in Washington, D.C.

Zamboanga City Assistant Prosecutor Darlene Pajarito calls on Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. during her weeklong stay in Washington, D.C.

28 June 2011, Washington DC. A day after being honored among this year’s Trafficking-in-Persons (TIP) Report Heroes by the United States Department of State, Zamboanga City Assistant Prosecutor Darlene Pajarito called on Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr.

The 2011 TIP report hailed Atty. Pajarito for securing the country’s first sex trafficking conviction in 2005 and the first labor trafficking conviction in 2011, and for securing in Zamboanga more convictions than have been handed down in any other Philippine city.  The report adds that Atty. Pajarito’s successful record has shown other prosecutors the value of police-prosecutors cooperation in the development of strong cases against traffickers.

Ambassador Cuisia commended Atty. Pajarito for her accomplishment and remarked that she serves as a model for others in government to emulate.  He offered the Embassy’s utmost cooperation in continuing the fight against human trafficking and stated that he will only be fully satisfied when the Philippines achieves Tier 1 status, the highest ranking in the State Department’s annual report.

Atty. Pajarito noted that she did not expect to receive the accolade, considering that nominations were solicited from 184 countries.  She considered herself a long shot for the award and shrugged off her chances of being chosen, when told that her name would be submitted for consideration.  The humble prosecutor narrated to Ambassador Cuisia her feelings of excitement and nervousness standing next to Secretary Hillary Clinton during the ceremony in the jam packed Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department.

Atty. Darlene Pajarito (standing, 4th from left) poses in a photo with Secretary Hillary Clinton (seated, middle), Ambassador Luis CdeBaca (standing, leftmost), and other recipients of the 2011 Trafficking-in-Persons Report Heroes award. (Photo courtesy of the State Department)

Atty. Darlene Pajarito (standing, 4th from left) poses in a photo with Secretary Hillary Clinton (seated, middle), Ambassador Luis CdeBaca (standing, leftmost), and other recipients of the 2011 Trafficking-in-Persons Report Heroes award. (Photo courtesy of the State Department)

Each year, the Department of State honors individuals around the world who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking.  It is the second time a Filipino has been chosen for the distinction.  In 2008, Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda was cited for championing the welfare of marginalized migrants.

According to the Department of State, the honored individuals are NGO workers, lawmakers, police officers, and concerned citizens who are committed to ending modern slavery. They are recognized for their tireless efforts – despite resistance, opposition, and threats to their lives – to protect victims, punish offenders, and raise awareness of ongoing criminal practices in their countries and abroad.  END