Press Release
January 31, 2022

Senate moves to strengthen anti-trafficking law

The Senate unanimously passed on third and final reading Monday, January 31, 2022, a bill that would strengthen the Philippines' law against human trafficking.

Voting 23-0-0, senators approved Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2449, which proposes to further amend Republic Act No. 9208, as amended by RA No. 10363, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality and sponsor of the measure, said the proposed law is dedicated to Filipinos who are victims of trafficking abroad, in the offshore gaming industry, and underground online groups.

"I am grateful to contribute to an important milestone in the protection of women, children and other victims of trafficking," Hontiveros said during their hybrid plenary session.

The bill, among others, would give law enforcers additional tools for pursuing human traffickers, particularly when the violations involve the use of internet and digital platforms.

The measure would also hold internet intermediaries accountable for knowingly allowing their infrastructure to be used for acts of trafficking of victims. This would also apply to social media networks, as well as financial and e-commerce intermediaries.

It likewise seeks to address human trafficking by explicitly prohibiting the tampering of passports, birth certificates, and travel clearances. Further, it increases protections to victims of trafficking, including Filipino victims overseas.

Hontiveros earlier said SBN 2449 also introduces as an additional aggravating circumstance when the crime is committed during a crisis, a public health concern such as a pandemic, a disaster, a humanitarian conflict or emergency situation, or when the trafficked person is a survivor of the same.

The bill also increases the duties of local government units (LGUs) in providing recovery and reintegration support to trafficked persons and their families. Hontiveros noted this would be consistent with the planned devolution of anti-trafficking measures from the Department of Social Welfare and Development to LGUs.

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