Expanded anti-trafficking law to bolster PHL bid for Tier 1 status – VP Binay

February 15, 2013 11:30 pm 

By Jelly Musico

MANILA, Feb. 15 — Vice President Jejomar Binay Friday said the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III will bolster the government’s efforts to be included in the Tier 1 listing of the United States’ Global Trafficking in Persons Report.

“I am very grateful that President Aquino supports our efforts to curb human trafficking in the country and I thank him for strengthening our laws against this menace,” the Vice President said in a press statement.

“The enactment of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act would mean greater protection for our kababayans, especially the women, children and our Overseas Filipino Workers,” he added.

Binay is the chairman emeritus of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking and chairman of the Presidential Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment.

The Vice President, also the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, particularly commended the inclusion of the crime of attempted trafficking in the expanded law.

He said the inclusion of attempted trafficking now allows the government to become pro-active rather than reactive in eliminating human trafficking cases and prevent OFWs from being abused.

”The previous law only allowed us to file trafficking in persons cases against perpetrators only after the actual act of trafficking had been committed. Because of this, our kababayans had to be subjected to abuse first before trafficking charges could be filed,” Binay said.

Binay cited the cases of human trafficking of OFWs, saying that if OFWs were not yet transported abroad, only illegal recruitment charges could be filed against their recruiters.

“Illegal recruitment has a significantly lesser punishment compared to human trafficking violations. With the inclusion of attempted trafficking, trafficking charges, which could be filed against those recruiters with our OFWs not being subjected to abuse,” he said.

Under the new law, violators of attempted trafficking would be facing a penalty of 15 years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P1 million.

Trafficking persons carries a penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a P1 million fine, while qualified human trafficking violators face life imprisonment and a P2 million fine.

The anti-trafficking czar said the Philippines has been removed from the Tier 2 Watchlist status of the United State Department’s annual GTIP report barely a year since President Aquino took office.

“For the past two years, we were classified in the Tier 2 status, from Tier 2 Watchlist during the previous administration. That means we are exerting efforts to curb trafficking in the country but we still don’t meet the minimum requirements of the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act,” he said.

“What we are working on now is to be classified as Tier 1, meaning fully compliant with the requirements of the United States,” he added.

Binay said the combined Operations Center of the IACAT and PTFAIR assisted more than 1,300 human trafficking and illegal recruitment victims last year.

He revealed that the IACAT has formed a team dedicated to issuing and monitoring of warrants of arrest of suspected human traffickers.

“This is in line with the recommendations for the Philippines in the GTIP report last year, which was for us to strengthen case monitoring and conviction. I hope our efforts to comply with this recommendation will be recognized by the US State Department when the 2013 GTIP Report comes out in June,” Binay said. (PNA)

HBC/JFM

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