Risk dampens fiscals’ drive vs. trafficking

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Thursday, July 3, 2014


AN INTERNATIONAL human rights organization said the successful prosecution of offenders will help curb human trafficking in the Philippines.

But reality is far from the ideal.

The International Justice Mission (IJM) reported seven convictions in Metro Cebu and five in Metro Manila last month while the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) reported that 118 traffickers were sentenced in June last year. However, there were 1,519 human trafficking cases filed as of June 2013.

Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane said prosecutors are doing their best to curb human trafficking, but he doubts if there are prosecutors who are willing to go full-time in the campaign.

“It is a difficult and high-risk,” said Gubalane, who is the head of IACAT in Central Visayas.

He added that the job of prosecutors are high-risk in nature.

Small number

In Central Visayas, there are only 150 prosecutors and they prosecute all types of crimes, and conduct inquest proceedings and preliminary investigations, he said.

Still, IJM Philippines National Director Andrey Sawchenko said he noticed improvements in the Philippine judiciary’s efficiency and effectiveness in resolving trafficking cases.

“Strict enforcement of the law and an efficient justice system are crucial to protect victims from trafficking,” he said in a recent press statement.

He said the campaign to rescue victims and prosecute traffickers are made possible through inter-agency partnerships.

The US State Department, in its 2014 Trafficking in Persons report, has recommended that the Philippine Government increase the number of officials, police and prosecutors who are dedicated to anti-trafficking activities.

Law

IACAT is composed of the police, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Justice (DOJ) and other government agencies. The prosecutors are under the DOJ.

Sex and labor trafficking are prohibited under Republic Act (RA) 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons) as amended by RA 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons).

The US State Department report finds the Philippines as not having fully complied with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking as child sex trafficking remains a “serious problem.”

Aside from enforcement of anti-trafficking laws, the US State Department also urged the Philippines to implement anti-money laundering regulations to arrest and punish those involved in trafficking.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 03, 2014.

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