PH urged to aid in efforts to rescue Nigerian girls

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at May 08 2014 09:53 AM | Updated as of May 08 2014 05:53 PM

CALIFORNIA - Filipinos and city officials in Carson stood in unity with the Nigerian community in calling for the safe rescue of the kidnapped Nigerian girls.

"We have a big Nigerian community. I'm a Filipina-American. I am a mother and a teacher. I know how it feels for children who are in school and taken out and being threatened to be sold to sexual traffickers that is really horrendous and horrible. So it's not just an issue of one country but an issue of human rights violations," said community leader Fe Koons.

Close to 300 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their school earlier this month. Their abductors, who claim to be part of Al Qaeda, have threatened to sell the young girls.

For Filipinos activists, the threats of selling girls as wives and slaves hit close to home. Human rights groups have identified the Philippines as one of the world's biggest human trafficking offenders.

"AF3IRM has been fighting against trafficking for almost 25 years now. This isn't a new issue. This is something that has been occurring and occurring not just in Nigeria," said Primrose Villena, co-coordinator of the Association of Filipinas, Feminists Fighting Imperialism, Re-fuedalism, Marginalization (AF3IRM).

The US government had announced on Tuesday that it will join the rescue efforts.

"We, as a city council, will support the president and all his action and anyone that needs our support," said Carson City Mayor Jim Dear.

Carson's Filipino vice mayor, Lito Santarina, told the community that through the local Philippine consulate, he will call on the Philippine government to aid in the global rescue efforts.

"We are going to make sure that the Republic of the Philippines will be involved in and working with the team that is going to continue this search," said Santarina

Overseas Filipino workers have had their run-ins with Nigerian rebels. Two dozen seafarers were kidnapped in 2007, prompting then president Gloria Arroyo to issue a travel ban.

Another OFW was among a group of 7 workers kidnapped last year.

Local Filipinos believe a stand with the Nigerian community is also a stand with Filipinos who have also been victimized by Nigerian rebels.