Press Release
January 18, 2011

Legarda Stresses Need to Strengthen Anti-Human Trafficking Law

Senator Loren Legarda today pushed for the passage of a measure that would strengthen the current Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (RA 9208).

Legarda said that there is a pressing need to amend the current law because an estimated 2,000 Filipinos continue to fall prey into trafficking each year.

"Trafficking in Persons is a complex problem and its full dimensions are hard to measure. Furthermore, trafficking modes and patterns continue to evolve over time as perpetrators of the crime seek to outflank policies and regulations of government," she explained.

"As perpetrators become more innovative in their actions, so should government be more deliberate in its efforts to strengthen policies, improve on enforcement, and enhance inter-agency coordination, both at the local and international level," she added.

In sponsoring Senate Bill 2625, Legarda enumerated the amendments to the present law, such as: the addition of a new section on acts that constitute attempted trafficking; the strengthening 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.

To fill the void in the law which has so far failed to sustain prosecutions for acts of trafficking that were pre-empted, the proposed legislation adds a new section that enumerates acts that shall constitute attempted trafficking in persons, and be punishable per se.

Furthermore, to take the battle against anti-trafficking to a higher plane of strategic action and public awareness, a permanent secretariat shall be established within the Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT), to be attached to the Department of Justice and funded through the annual budget.

"We also want to extend protection to trafficked victims in various stages of the investigation and prosecution process in the form of custody and interim protection under the power of the DSWD or an accredited shelter institution," Legarda said.

"It is vital that we adopt policies that conform to minimum standards and principles embodied in international instruments that are directed at arresting the widening reach of trafficking. We need an effective legal framework if we are to achieve some degree of success in our fight against trafficking in persons," she concluded.

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