To strengthen the government’s crackdown on human trafficking, including online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC), Senator Win Gatchalian proposed increasing the budget for Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) enforcement.
Gatchalian proposed to add P70.74 million to the P76.28 million allocated under the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for ATIP enforcement. From this proposed fund for ATIP enforcement, the senator aimed to allocate P39.42 million to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking Secretariat (IACAT) and P31.32 million to the National Coordination Center (NCC) Against OSAEC and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Secretariat.
The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) has reported that the Philippines ranked second worldwide when it comes to OSAEC. The senator also referred to the Scale of Harm Survey by the International Justice Mission (IJM) and the University of Nottingham Rights Lab, which estimated that 471,416 Filipino children were trafficked to produce new child sexual exploitation material in 2022.
The country has witnessed a rise in human trafficking incidents related to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), according to Gatchalian. On October 27th alone, authorities rescued 731 Filipino and foreign workers from a raided POGO hub in Pasay City, most of whom were victims of human trafficking.
“These criminal activities –human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children are real and they’re happening in our country. Hardened criminal syndicates are operating freely within our jurisdiction,” said Gatchalian.
“I am suggesting increasing the budget of the anti-trafficking in persons enforcement group from 76 million to 147 million. This is to enable them to continue their work in apprehending and rescuing all human trafficking victims, as well as investigating and curbing online sexual abuse of our minors,” he added.
The budget for ATIP Enforcement under the 2024 NEP is P76.28 million. This was reduced in the 2024 GAB by P10 million, or a 13.11% decrease.
Gatchalian also noted that under the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022 (Republic Act No. 11862) and the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act (Republic Act No. 11930), the IACAT’s structure, composition, and role were expanded to supervise both the IACAT and the NCC-OSAEC-CSAEM Secretariats.