DOJ strengthens war vs human traffickers

February 2, 2011 2:10 am 

DAVAO CITY, Feb. 1 – The Department of Justice (DOJ) is spearheading the war against human trafficking with the mission to speed up prosecution and strengthen the witness protection program.

Lawyer Jonathan Lledo, head of the national task force on anti-trafficking at a press conference held here said, this after recent evaluation placed the Philippines under the tier 2 watchlist as source and destination of human traffickers.

“We are going full speed akin to war versus trafficking in persons,” Lledo said.

He said the task force will wage the war through a three-pronged approach including protection, prevention, and prosecution.

The fight will not exempt government officials or employees who are involved in trafficking in persons (TIP) cases.

“We will not tolerate government officials or workers in TIP cases to go scot-free,” Lledo said.

Lledo said last year the task force has charged 20 personnel from the Bureau of Immigration assigned at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport. Another personnel from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport was also charged with anti-trafficking case in August last year. Recently, the task force also subjected for inquest a National Bureau of Investigation agent engaged in escort service charging P20,000 per head.

Lledo said investigations are also ongoing behind the recent transport of nine Filipinas to Lebanon who are posing as nuns. They were intercepted and believed to be victims of human trafficking while some culinary students also believed to be victims of similar crime were intercepted at the Diosdado Macapagal Airport, he said.

Lawyer Teresita Domingo, consultant of Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) said that aside from funding assistance from various donors, the government has allotted P25 million for IACAT-DOJ and another P25 million for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the newly created integrated approach against trafficking this year.

Lledo said donations include those coming from the World Bank, UNICEF, Visayan Forum, and legislators particularly Sarangani Congressman and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.

Domingo said from May 2003 to 2010 there were only 33 convictions made for trafficking in persons.

“The rate is too low endangering the Philippines to further dip into the tier three watchlist,” she said. (PNA) DCT/LAM/JGQ/ldp


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