/ 31 July 2021

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday stressed the need to boost the campaign to stop human trafficking, particularly of children.

“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,” he said as the country observed World Day Against Trafficking in Person.

While the United States Department of State’s 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report retained 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. Of this number, 25 sexually exploited children online.

Out of the 1,205 children served by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, 157 were victims of online sexual exploitation.

In 2020, the Department of Justice’s Office of Cybercrime received 1.29 million tips on alleged OSEC cases, thrice the 426,000 reported in 2019.

The surge in suspicious transactions linked to OSEC prompted the President to call on Congress to amend trafficking laws to exempt traffickers from the Anti-Wiretapping Law.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that amendments to trafficking laws should impose obligations on internet service providers and tourism establishments.

Last year, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill 1794, which seeks to strengthen Republic Act 9208 as amended by Republic Act 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.

The measure aims to allow courts to authorize law enforcers to conduct surveillance and record communications and information involving persons charged with or suspected of child trafficking.