NEW YORK – As an offshoot of rescuing a Filipina who was a victim of involuntary servitude in the hands of an Egyptian employer in New York City, in joint efforts with the Philippine Consulate General in New York, the Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (FALDEF) has organized and partnered with a counterpart in the Philippines.
Philippine Legal Defense and Education Center, Inc., (PHILDEC) , a non-governmental organization (NGO), was established during the visit of FALDEF leadership in Manila to attend the 2nd D2D (Diaspora to Development) Global Summit of Filipinos in Diaspora on Feb. 25-27 in Manila.
The establishment of PHILDEC was deemed necessary in order to address human/labor trafficking at its inception – targeting illegal recruiters and individuals who initially recruit potential employees from the Philippines and are brought to the U.S. With PHILDEC, it makes it more effective for both organizations to initiate simultaneous prosecution of those involved from the Philippines and the U.S.
The U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Harry K. Thomas, Jr., tendered a reception for the visiting directors of FALDEF and the new directors of PHILDEC at his residence on Feb. 27. FALDEF has earlier sought the assistance of the ambassador in finding common avenues to jointly combat human/labor trafficking. In turn, the ambassador invited FALDEF to visit the Philippines.
PHILDEC is structured to have both an advisory and working boards. Legal luminaries, social advocate and community organizers, and business executive have agreed to lend their expertise and commitment in the pursuit of justice, the majesty of the rule of law and the aristocracy of human dignity as members of PHILDEC boards.
The advisory board members include former Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr ; Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ (one of the foremost authorities on Phil. Constitutional law, ormer law dean of the Ateneo Law School); Fr. Romeo Intengan SJ (former Jesuit Provincial and noted social crusader ); Atty. Antonio La Vina (Dean, Ateneo School of Government); Atty. Avelino Cruz, Jr. (former Secretary of National Defense; Partner: Carpio Villaraza and Cruz Law Offices); Atty. Rolando Mario Villonco (Managing Partner: Siguion Reyna Law Offices); and Fr. Nilo Tanalega, SJ President of the UGAT Foundation.
Working board members are: Atty. Clarence Guerrero (Private Practitioner and former Chief Counsel of Manila Bank); Atty. Eva Laluna (Private Practitioner and Advocate of Women’s Rights); Atty. Eric Mallonga (Private Practitioner and former Counsel of Bantay Bata); Rene Madarang ( Community Development Specialist); Fr. Julio Ramon Mallonga (CICM; Missionary with 21 years of experience in South America; a social advocate and community organizer); Captain Nilo Du (Private Entrepreneur and owner of shipping-related businesses); Christian Laluna (Communications Director, Ateneo School of Government) and Engr. Felizardo Mercado, Jr.(Community Dev. Manager, Philip Morris, Philippines).
In addition, Prosecutor General Claro Arellano of the Dept. of Justice expressed his interest on the issue of human/labor trafficking. Also, Dean Danilo Concepcion of the University of the Philippines College of Law (UP Law Center) and Dean Sedfrey Candelaria of the Ateneo College of Law (Ateneo Human Rights Center) manifested their deep interest in working and partnering with PHILDEC on the educational aspect relating to human rights and labor trafficking.
Once operational, PHILDEC and its volunteer lawyers will work with Philippine prosecutors, allied NGOS and government agencies.
FALDEF President, J.T Mallonga was one of the resource speakers on “Legal Assistance to Filipinos in Distress in the U.S,” a workshop on Global Legal Assistance on Advocacy. Joining him in this visit were Merit Salud, Nimfa Du-Tinana, Cely Deauna, Patricia Astorga, Loida Nicholas Lewis, Jose Ramos, Jr., Dr. Angie Cruz, and Ramon Tinana.
PHOTO CAPTION: Ambassador Harry K. Thomas With FALDEP and PHILDEC directors and guests