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Legarda: Days of Human Traffickers Are Numbered

November 28, 2012

AS THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAVE COME UP WITH THE RECONCILED VERSION OF THE PROPOSED MEASURE THAT STRENGTHENS THE CURRENT ANTI-TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS ACT, SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA TODAY WARNED HUMAN TRAFFICKERS THAT THEIR DAYS ARE ALREADY NUMBERED.
Legarda made the statement as she expressed hope that President Aquino will sign the measure into law in time for the International Day Against Trafficking on December 12.
“Nine years after Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act was passed, we still have a long way to go to eradicate and effectively control the scourge that trafficking inflicts upon our people,” Legarda noted.
“We acknowledge that the problem of human trafficking continues to hound our society, and this is the reason why we need to strengthen the existing law. The proposed measure that has been approved by the Congressional Bicameral Conference Committee imposes more stringent penalties, including provisions on accessory liability,” said Legarda, Chair of the Sub-Committee on Anti-Trafficking and sponsor of the measure.
She explained that the present law, R.A. 9208, does not have a provision on pre-empted trafficking, but this new law covers attempted trafficking and accessory or accomplice liability, thereby covering under the mantle of the law those individuals who have any involvement in human trafficking.
The Senator noted that by year-end of 2011, the country’s Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) reported 62 convictions out of a total of 1,519 cases filed between 2003 and 2011. From January to October of this year, however, 38 convictions were made, equivalent to more than half of the total convictions made over an eight-year period.
“While this development validates the modest and positive strides the country has achieved in the battle against trafficking, we need to do more,” she said, citing recent reports that at least 64 people bound for Malaysia, but with no appropriate travel documents, were intercepted by IACAT agents in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.
Legarda added that under the new measure, the IACAT shall be strengthened as it will have a permanent secretariat with funds.