Press Release
October 8, 2012

Legarda Hails Approval on Third Reading
of Expanded Anti-Human Trafficking Bill

Senator Loren Legarda today hailed the Senate's approval on Third Reading of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Bill, which will strengthen Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

Legarda, sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2625 or the proposed Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act of 2012, expressed optimism that the proposed measure when passed into law will significantly improve the country's fight against human trafficking, stressing that even acts that shall constitute attempted trafficking in persons will be punishable under this measure.

"This measure expands the enumeration of acts that promote trafficking, to include an act to destroy or tamper with evidence, to influence witnesses in an investigation, or to utilize one's public office to impede an investigation or the execution of lawful orders. Meanwhile, the privilege of confidentiality now being enjoyed by the accused in a trafficking case will be removed," she explained.

Legarda also said that protection to trafficked victims shall be given in the form of custody and interim protection under the power of the DSWD or an accredited shelter institution; while prosecution efforts will be heightened by shielding, to a reasonable extent, law enforcement officers and social workers from harassment suits for lawful acts done in good faith during authorized rescue operations, investigation or prosecution of a case.

Furthermore, a permanent secretariat within the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) will be established to ensure continuity of programs and to take the battle against trafficking to a higher plane of strategic action and public awareness. This secretariat will collect comprehensive criminal justice data on trafficking in persons and will train prosecutors and law enforcers.

"Now that the Expanded Anti-Human Trafficking Bill has been passed on third reading, we are that much closer to providing lasting and effective solutions to the scourge of trafficking in persons," Legarda concluded.

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