Senator Loren Legarda today ensured stronger support for efforts to combat trafficking in persons, stressing that much more needs to be done even with the improved global ranking of the Philippines.
During the hearing for the proposed 2018 budget of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, commended the sustained and intensified government efforts against human trafficking but said that much more needs to be done.
"I commend the government, particularly the DOJ through the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), for intensified efforts against trafficking in persons as seen in the rate of convictions since the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act was enacted in 2012. We see now that the amended law helped improve the conviction rate," said Legarda, principal sponsor of Republic Act No. 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.
Based on the presentation of the DOJ, there was a sharp rise in the number of trafficking in persons convictions, especially two years after RA 10364 was enacted.
In 2012 and 2013, there were 27 and 26 case convictions, respectively. In 2014, there were 59 case convictions, 49 in 2015 and 44 in 2016.
Moreover, the Philippines maintained its Tier 1 status in the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report of 2017, the 2nd consecutive year that the country is in Tier 1.
"We really see the connection between improved legislation and executive action. We will continue to support IACAT because even as we speak, online child trafficking happens, and many of the pimps are relatives, including parents, which is very sad," said Legarda. The proposed 2018 budget for IACAT is 95.28 million.
The Senator also cited statistics from the International Justice Mission (IJM), who has been partnering with the government in rescuing victims of violence. The IJM said that Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) is growing at an alarming rate in the Philippines as more poor families are turning to this easy means of income.
Through IJM-assisted operations, 200 victims of OSEC in the Philippines were rescued. Of the 200 victims, 87% of survivors are minors, 52% of which are 12 years or younger; 83% of survivors are female; 42% of the cases include sibling groups; and 72% of the cases involve parents or relatives as perpetrators themselves.
"There's much more work to be done to save our children from international trafficking syndicates. We should continue our fight against human trafficking through public awareness campaigns, capacity building, and continuous coordination and collaboration with key stakeholders. The Senate will ensure funding for the IACAT and other agencies involved in anti-human trafficking efforts," Legarda concluded.
Source: Senate of the Philippines