Saturday, November 22, 2014

PHL No. 1 in Asia in Gov’t Response vs. Human Trafficking Legarda Vows Continued Support to Anti-Trafficking Efforts

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said she will continue to support efforts to fight human trafficking as she lauded improved government performance in curbing the crime.

Legarda made the statement in reaction to the result of the 2014 Global Slavery Index that showed the Philippines is no. 1 in Asia, no. 3 in Asia-Pacific, and no. 29 worldwide out of 166 countries in terms of government response against human trafficking.

The report was released by Walk Free Foundation, an Australia-based global human rights organization dedicated to ending modern day slavery.

“We are now seeing the benefits of an expanded anti-trafficking law and the strengthened efforts of law enforcement agencies to stop human trafficking. But we still have more work to do because the challenges are also getting tougher, especially with the emergence of cyber sex crimes,” said Legarda, principal sponsor of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (R.A. 10364).

The Senator said that the proliferation of cyber sex trafficking is alarming especially that there are cases wherein the perpetrators are the parents of the victims.

“These cases of cyber sex trafficking tell us that with advancements in the Internet, allowing communication to cross national borders in a matter of seconds, everything is now within reach. We need to strengthen cooperation and improve coordination with international police groups for continuous successful operations against cyber pornography,” Legarda said.

“I will continue to give my full support to the Department of Justice (DOJ), as head of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the full and effective implementation of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, as well as in carrying out a massive information and education campaign against all forms of human trafficking, including cyber pornography,” Legarda concluded.

On National Bicycle Day, Drilon urges bike lanes for roads

MANILA-As the country celebrates its first National Bicycle Day on November 23, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon reiterated his challenge for heads of local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to start making major roads friendlier to bikers and other travelers using environmentally-sound forms of transportation.  

The Senate leader made the statement as a coalition of private and public groups are spearheading the 1st National Bicycle Day, a nationwide event where cyclists from North and South Metro Manila, Pampanga, Iloilo and Davao will conduct simultaneous rides throughout major roads in their localities.

Expressing his solidarity with the Filipino biking community, Drilon said that the government must be more serious about promoting biking and non-motorized forms of mobility which he said “is a sound method of reducing traffic and air pollution.”

“I agree with every Filipino who has made biking their means of transport and hobby and that not only it promotes a healthier lifestyle, it can also provide some of the answers to our transportation and environmental woes,” he said. 

Drilon said that the government should not ignore biking as a potent way of bringing down the levels of air and noise pollution in metropolitan areas:  “Considering the benefits and rewards of biking, we should adopt it as part of our anti-pollution strategy.”

Drilon said that such a strategy is neither “impractical nor impossible,” noting that examples of bicycle-friendly road systems already exist in the country.

“This is the case for several road projects in Iloilo which I supported, such as the road-widening project along the 10-km Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue in Iloilo, which features a six-lane highway, a pedestrian lane and a 5-m paved bike lane that will extend from the Jaro District in Iloilo City to the Iloilo International Airport,” Drilon noted. 

Furthermore, the senator explained how a 14-km circumferential road connecting Arevalo District in Iloilo City and the coastal road in Dumangas town in Iloilo, "has been designed to include a 2-meter painted bike lane throughout its entire span." These initial bike lanes will  be looped and integrated into a comprehensive bike lane network system for the city in the near future.

“What is really necessary is the cooperation and commitment between local leaders and national agencies, along with strong grassroots support, to effect these type of environmental reforms,” Drilon said.

The Senate chief said he will support any legislation for integration of bike lanes into national roads “if legislative backing is really required for government to make such a system happen.”


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