Press Release
March 25, 2018

Legarda at IPU Urges Fellow Legislators to Craft Stronger Laws to Protect Women and Children

Senator Loren Legarda has urged fellow legislators at the 138th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to craft laws that would better protect women and children.

Legarda, Head of the Philippine Delegation to the 138th IPU Assembly in Geneva, made the intervention during the panel discussion on "Why are women still underrepresented in politics? The root causes and how to address them."

The Senator said that while women representation in politics is important to pursue gender-responsive legislation, the more important thing is to ensure that women who are in the political sphere are able to craft quality measures that are greatly and urgently needed to protect women and children.

"Women representation in politics is important but more than the numbers, it is the quality of work that we do that really matters," said Legarda, a three-term senator who is the only female to become Majority Leader of the Philippine Senate.

"In the Philippines, six out of 24 senators are female and at least one-third of legislators in the House of Representatives are women. The Philippines has been number one in Asia and among the top ten countries in the world for several years now in terms of closing the gender gap, based on the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report," she stressed.

Legarda, however, said that while the Philippines is doing well in terms of closing gender gap, it is unfortunate that Filipino women and children continue to become victims of human trafficking, including online sexual exploitation.

The Senator believes this is not due to the lack of laws in the country necessary to protect women and children, rather, the absence of stricter penalties for human traffickers and online sexual predators from other nations.

Legarda, author of Philippine landmark laws on the protection of women and children--such as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, the Magna Carta of Women, the Anti-Child Labor Law, the Domestic Workers Act, and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and its expanded version--said, "The Philippines has enough laws to combat human trafficking and protect women and children. We are trying our best to strengthen the enforcement and implementation of these laws."

Legarda added that, as Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, she ensures that agencies concerned in the protection of women and children, especially the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) under the Department of Justice (DOJ), have enough funds to aid them in carrying out their duties.

Furthermore, in the 2018 national budget, she ensured the increase in the budget of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Women and Children's Protection Center (WCPC) for additional training and purchase of equipment, which will lead to more children being rescued, more criminals being arrested, and stopping human trafficking in its track.

"But since human trafficking is a transnational crime, addressing it requires a concerted effort from all nations. The challenge really is for other nations to also raise the penalties to lower the demand and reflect the true nature of the crime in their respective countries. All countries must do their part to ensure that all offenders are heavily penalized," Legarda concluded.

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