Amid the observation of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons today, July 30, Senator Win Gatchalian pressed the urgency of strengthening the country’s laws to combat different forms of trafficking.
“Sa mga nalalabing buwan ng kasalukuyang administrasyon, mahalagang tutukan natin ang pagsugpo sa human trafficking, lalo na’t marami sa mga kabataan natin ang nanganganib maging biktima nito,” said Gatchalian.
While the United States Department of State’s 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report retains the Philippines’ Tier 1 status for meeting the minimum standards on the elimination of trafficking, Gatchalian pointed out the vulnerability of children to trafficking crimes.
According to the State Department’s report, most of the 73 traffickers convicted by the government under the anti-trafficking act and related laws subjected children to sex trafficking, 25 of which sexually exploited children online. Out of the 1,205 trafficking victims served by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), 157 were victims of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC).
In 2020, the Department of Justice Office of Cybercrime received 1.29 million Cybertipline reports of alleged OSEC cases from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the United States. This is thrice the 426,000 reported in 2019. Gatchalian also recalled how some students resorted to the online selling of lewd images and videos to raise funds for distance learning.
Following the surge of suspicious transactions linked to OSEC, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles earlier this year reported that the President called on Congress to amend trafficking laws to exempt traffickers from the Anti-Wiretapping Law. The Palace official added that amendments to trafficking laws should impose obligations on internet service providers (ISPs) and tourism establishments.
Last year, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 1794, which strengthens Republic Act No. 9208 as amended by Republic Act No. 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012). The proposed measure provides that when it comes to cases involving child trafficking, regional trial courts can authorize law enforcers to conduct surveillance and record communications and information involving persons charged with or suspected of trafficking.