Senate approves bill strengthening anti-trafficking measures-A A +A
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
MANILA -- Punishment for attempts to smuggle women or children for prostitution and other unlawful means and revelation of the identities of suspects are just among the changes approved by senators to strengthen the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
Voting 19-0 with no abstention, the Senate on Monday passed on third and final reading Senate Bill 2625, otherwise known as the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2010.
Aside from attempted trafficking, corresponding penalties will also be implemented against the act of adopting women and children especially if the adoption was proven to be a means of prostitution, forced labor, involuntary servitude or debt bondage, including recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
This is because the acts are considered a possible means of trafficking, said Senator Pia Cayetano, one of the bill’s co-authors along with Senators Loren Legarda, Franklin Drilon and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
While the identity of victims of human trafficking will remain private, persons accused of the crime will now be made public to warn possible victims under the bill.
Also included in the amendments to Republic Act 9208 are the addition of a new section detailing acts that constitute attempted trafficking in persons; the strengthening of legal protection for victims in the form of custody and interim protection order; and the establishment of a permanent secretariat within the inter-agency council for anti-trafficking.
Legarda said the bill offers protection for trafficked victims in the form of custody under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or an accredited shelter institution and law enforcement officers and social workers who aid in the rescue operations, investigation or prosecution of a case may now be protected from harassment suits.
Moreover, a permanent secretariat within the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (IACAT) will be established to ensure continuity of programs and increase public awareness of efforts to curb the crime. This secretariat will gather comprehensive criminal justice data on trafficking in persons and will train prosecutors and law enforcers.
An earlier study commissioned by the U.S. Department of State entitled Trafficking in Persons Report has identified the Philippines as one of the countries that have had little progress in its fight to stop human trafficking.(Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)