Monday, May 2, 2011

Trillanes sought for the urgent passage against human trafficking

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, May 3, 2011-Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV calls for the urgent passage of Senate Bill No. 2625, a consolidation of pending senate measures sought to strengthen the law against human trafficking by providing stiffer penalties against government personnel involved in human trafficking, creating and funding a permanent secretariat for the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and lifting the confidentiality provision favoring the persons charged with the offense.

Trillanes said that Republic Act No. 9208 otherwise known as the anti-trafficking in person’s act of 2003 is a landmark legislation which seeks to protect the citizenry especially the women and children, from human trafficking and forced labor and servitude, adding that there is a need to provide stiffer penalties against certain persons, particularly government officials and employees, who are engaged in human trafficking to stem the occurrence of these anomalous acts.

Trillanes furthered that human trafficking offenders face up to 20 years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of P2, 000,000.00 under Section 10 of R.A. 9208 where he sought to increase the prison term in the case of perpetuators who are working in government and who are engaged in illegal labor, sex and child trafficking to a maximum of 25 years.
“The act of a government official or employee who involves themselves in human trafficking is clearly one of the highest forms of betrayal of public trust; thus, there is a need to impose stiffer penalties upon these type of offenders,” Trillanes said who also wanted to amend Section 7 of the R.A. 9208 to strike out the confidentiality provision that protects those who are charged of human trafficking in the same way it protects victims of the offense.

Trillanes pointed out that the fight against human trafficking is being unduly hampered by Section 7 which restricts the dissemination of information relating to people charged with trafficking. Lifting the confidentiality provision in favor of the alleged perpetrators would enable the government as well as concerned non-government organizations and the media to disseminate vital information in order to forewarn the public from being victimized by persons and syndicates engaged in this nefarious trade.

Trillanes also calls for the creation of a permanent secretariat for the IACAT to manage the council’s activities and to provide for the continuity of plans and programs.

Senate Bill No. 2625, which is principally authored by the senator likewise provides for direct funding for the IACAT’s Secretariat to support it in fulfilling its mandate instead of just being merely allowed to tap a trust fund, which hardly meets the financial requirements of victims of human trafficking needing assistance. In accordance with the existing law, the fines, proceeds and properties forfeited from people convicted of human trafficking are supposed to be placed in the said trust fund.

“Considering the growing number of human trafficking cases and the number of victims who need the support and assistance of IACAT, this mode of funding hardly meets the challenges of the times. Moreover, funds from the fines and forfeitures imposed by R.A. 9208 are slow in coming and we see no significant increase in the rate of the accumulation of said fund in the near future”, Trillanes emphasized. “Let us ‘put our money where our mouth is’ by providing direct funding for the IACAT Secretariat, whose primary function is to coordinate efforts intended to protect our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) or our bagong bayani as we call them, as well as our women and children”, Trillanes added.

In order to make the fight against human trafficking more effective and more responsive to the demands of the times, Trillanes also urged his colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass a counterpart measure on the said matter. (Jason de Asis) 

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