IACAT to honor International Day Against Trafficking

December 11, 2012 11:24 pm 

MANILA, Dec. 11 — The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) will be commemorating the 9th year of the passage of Republic Act 9208, otherwise known as the "Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003", in line with the International Day Against Trafficking on Dec. 12.

This will highlight the gains achieved by the concerted efforts of the different member agencies of IACAT and pay tribute to the individual heroes that spearhead the fight against human trafficking.

During the past year, the government's primary anti-human trafficking body has taken considerable gains in its effort to end modern day slavery.

The major accomplishments of IACAT are highlighted in the prosecution, protection and prevention of human trafficking activities in the Philippines and abroad.

On Wednesday, individuals from both the public and private sectors will be given recognition in their contribution in the Philippines' fight against human trafficking.

Likewise, the IACAT strategic action plan, forced labor manual, and civil forfeiture handbook on human trafficking cases will also be launched.

In the area of prosecution, the IACAT Secretariat has monitored and reported a total of 1,711 cases in the Regional Trial Courts and in the Prosecutors level.

To date, 81 convictions for offenses under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act involving 100 persons was obtained since the inception of the law.

Two-thirds of these convictions were obtained in the 28 months of President Benigno S. Aquino III's administration.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila M. De Lima, also IACAT chair, emphasized the importance of the anti-corruption program of the government to the anti-trafficking effort, especially the dismissal of government officers found to be complicit in trafficking.

In the area of prevention, since 2011, the agents of the Bureau of Immigration (BI), one of the member agencies of IACAT, have undertaken the strict inspection of travel, employment, and financial documents of outgoing passengers in airports and seaports to identify and protect trafficking victims in transit, while duly respecting their constitutional and human rights.

Records from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) show that 736 persons were identified and prevented from becoming victims of trafficking from 2011-2012.

"This achievement shows the high level of commitment of our partners in government and private sectors in the war against human trafficking and we are optimistic that this will be recognized by our partner-nations, as well, in the global campaign for its eradication," said DOJ Undersecretary Jose Vicente B. Salazar, in-charge of the day-to-day operations of IACAT.

In the area of protection, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and its agencies have consistently improved in the protection of rescued victims of human trafficking.

Through the invaluable support of the DSWD and the generous assistance of the Netherlands, the IACAT has begun to build centers to provide recovered victims with intermediate treatment and counseling facilities.

Salazar said in an earlier statement that the "mandate of IACAT doesn't stop in putting the criminal elements behind bar. It must go beyond that and on to helping victims recover their human dignity and rebuild their lives."

The IACAT, its member agencies, and its partner organizations similarly assisted in the processing of 920 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) repatriated from Syria.

Each of these programs has been made possible through an expansive alliance of government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The IACAT has also taken steps to develop its partnerships with other major players within the country and even outside its borders.

"The 'inter-agency approach' that we have installed in the Philippines represents not only the power of partnership and collaboration with both the public and private sector but also the determination and collective will of the various stakeholders to overcome obstacles in combating modern day slavery," Salazar said.

A recent signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between the IACAT and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) as well as the deepening participation of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Secretariat in the programs of the IACAT underscores this year's gains.

Another forthcoming gain is the expansion on IACAT's cooperation with foreign governments, most notably with the Netherlands.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted a joint operation on Nov. 30, 2012 against a group suspected of committing transnational trafficking and other crimes in Amsterdam and Manila.

"The Philippines is deeply committed to combating and eradicating trafficking in persons, which is rightly condemned by the law of nations and the conscience of humanity," De Lima said. (PNA)

LAM/PTR

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