Press Release
November 11, 2012

Legarda: Expanded Anti-Trafficking Bill to Improve Efforts
Against Trafficking in the PHL

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the proposed amendments to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act will significantly improve the efforts against trafficking in the country as she noted that the statement of UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, should be taken for what it is -- a statement over an alarming global problem that is symptomatic of the "crushing poverty" facing people around the world.

"It would be prudent to carefully study the efforts undertaken, over the years, to identify other gaps that could probably be addressed by stronger policy measures, and improvement in our law enforcement, prosecution, justice system, and even programs and services for trafficked persons and those who are vulnerable to trafficking," Legarda stressed.

"That is the approach we have taken in seeking to amend the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (RA 9208) of 2003," said Legarda, sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2625 or the proposed Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act of 2012.

"More than nine years after the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (RA 9208) was passed, we have seen 100 convictions. This is by no means an indication that we have won the battle against trafficking; but we have to take notice of the rising conviction numbers over the years," she added.

Legarda noted that by year-end of 2011, the country's Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking reported 62 convictions out of a total of 1,519 cases filed between 2003 and 2011. From January to October of this year, however, 38 convictions were made, equivalent to more than half of the total convictions made over an 8 year period.

The Senator said that these are indications of modest but positive strides the country has achieved in the battle against trafficking.

Even the US Trafficking Report for 2011 cited that while the Philippine government has yet to "comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, it is making significant efforts to do so." The said report even cited the "notable efforts" made by authorities to address trafficking-related corruption.

Additionally, the report cited that "the government enacted numerous measures and policies to improve institutional responses to human trafficking for this year and in future years, such as increased training of judicial, law enforcement, and diplomatic officials on trafficking issues."

"These efforts cannot be dismissed. In the midst of these accomplishments, however, we need to do more. It is for this reason that the Senate and the House moved to amend the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act to improve our capacity to battle this social scourge," Legarda said.

On Monday (Nov. 12), the representatives of both chambers will be convening a bicameral conference committee to reconcile the two versions of the bills amending RA 9208.

"There are major amendments which we seek to introduce into the original law, including new provisions on attempted trafficking to strengthen prosecution of pre-empted acts of trafficking; protection to trafficked victims; accomplice liability; protection to trafficked victims in various stages of the investigation and prosecution process; a permanent Secretariat to the country's anti-trafficking efforts, among others, as well as stronger penalty provisions," she explained.

"Hopefully, we can adopt a reconciled version of the measure in time for Dec. 12 -- the day of awareness and vigilance for the countless victims of Human Trafficking," Legarda concluded.

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